Appellate court dismisses case involving father’s DCS dispute

An appellate court has dismissed a case involving allegations made against a father to the Indiana Department of Child Services, finding that it doesn’t have jurisdiction over the proceedings in his case.

James Kindred, individually and on behalf of his son, B.K., and Janie Givens, individually and on the behalf of children M.G. and S.G., appealed a May 23, 2019, order addressing several different pending motions in the case of James H. Kindred, Individually and on behalf of the Minor Child B.K., et al. v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, et al.,19A-PL-2428.

Kindred, whose son was removed from his care as a result of child welfare investigations, lost his appeals in November 2019 of multiple motions granted by a trial court in a separate case.

In the issue at hand, Kindred filed a lawsuit under case number 60-C02-1803.

PL-115 claiming defamation per se against Charlotte Church, an employee at the Department of Child Services, and Rebel Rich, the adult child of Janie’s ex-husband, Troy Givens.

Kindred then filed a motion for change of judge with his initial pleading, and on April 9, 2018, amended his complaint to join Janie, M.G. and S.G., and B.K as plaintiffs. His amended complaint also added defendants DCS, DCS employees Laura Fair and Sonja Seymour, and Troy.

The case was later consolidated with 60-C02-1803-PL205, which Kindred filed in May 2018 against some of the same defendants. In its order, the trial court required all future pleadings to be filed under PL-115, but Kindred filed an objection to the trial court’s order of consolidation and an unsuccessful motion for leave to amend the PL-115 complaint.

He later filed an amended complaint adding several other defendants to the case, asserting that they either individually or in concert violated the appellant’s rights under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 and 18 U.S.C. section 241; committed several conspiracies, false reporting, false arrest and imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false light, and defamation per se; and violated

the appellants’ “fundamental right to familial right to association and privacy[.]”

After Kindred filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, the trial court ultimately denied the motion in a May 23 order and ruled that all matters “shall be resolved on their merits as opposed to a default.”

It later denied the appellants’ motion to certify the May 23 order for interlocutory appeal but granted Appellants’ request to declare its May 23 order a final judgment under Indiana Trial Rule 54, stating “[t]he Court hereby orders that there is no reason for delay and the May 23, 2019 order is a final judgment on the matters addressed therein.”

“The directions for future action set forth by the trial court in its May 23, 2019, order signals the order ‘places the parties’ rights in abeyance pending ultimate decision by the trier of fact.’ Further, the order does not dispose of any of the many substantive claims in this case,” Judge Melissa May wrote for the appellate court in dismissing the case.

“Therefore, the trial court abused its discretion when it declared its May 23, 2019, order to be a final judgment because the order did not possess the requisite degree of finality or dispose of any of the substantive claims set forth in Appellants’ October 26, 2018, amended complaint,” it wrote.

Finding that the order is not final and that the trial court denied the appellants’ motion to certify the order for interlocutory appeal, the appellate court concluded that is does not have jurisdiction over the proceedings and thus remanded.

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