IN justices deny 18 transfer petitions

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The Indiana Supreme Court bench in the Indiana Statehouse (IL file photo)

The Indiana Supreme Court denied transfer to 18 cases last week, granting just one transfer petition.

Among the transfer denials, 14 were unanimous while four split the court.

In the one case granted transfer, Thomas DeCola v. Norfolk Southern Corporation, 23S-PL-358, the justices issued an opinion earlier this week dismissing the appeal.

Among the denials that split the court was Fabian Lavell Bennett v. State of Indiana, 22A-CR-2274, a murder case in which Justice Derek Molter would have granted transfer.

In that case, Fabian Lavell Bennett was convicted of murder and pleaded guilty to sentence enhancements for the use of a firearm and being a habitual offender. The Court of Appeals of Indiana affirmed his convictions, finding that any error in the admission of video evidence was harmless, and that there was no prosecutorial misconduct or fundamental error.

Another case that split the justices was James Joseph Bertrand v. Michelle Dorothea Gordon, 22A-DN-2698.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush voted to grant the transfer petition in that case, in which James Bertrand challenged the Lake Superior Court’s order dissolving his marriage to Michelle Gordon and dividing their marital estate.

The lower appellate court upheld the dissolution order, finding the trial court did not abuse its discretion in equally dividing the house’s equity between the parties.

Rush and Justice Geoffrey Slaughter voted to grant the petition to transfer in a third case in which a man challenged his attempted rape and rape felonies.

The COA affirmed the convictions in Muhammed Cross v. State of Indiana, 22A-CR-2785.

Lastly, Rush and Justice Christopher Goff voted to grant the petition to transfer in a medical malpractice case.

In July, the Court of Appeals had affirmed in Ada Sparkman, Individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Robert E. Sparkman, Deceased v. Community Health Network, Inc., d/b/a Community Hospitals of Indiana, Inc., 23A-CT-146.

The COA ruled that Ada Sparkman failed to designate expert testimony to rebut the opinion of a medical review panel, which concluded that Community Health Network did not violate the applicable standard of care and was not the proximate cause of Robert Sparkman’s injuries. It further found that Community Health’s designation of the opinion of the medical review panel was sufficient to establish, prima facie, that Community Health was entitled to summary judgment.

The full list of transfer decisions is available here.

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