IN justices to hear arguments in 3 cases Thursday, including 2 with Duke Energy

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

The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases that involve Duke Energy on Thursday, plus another involving the state’s Department of Natural Resources that hasn’t been granted transfer.

In City of Carmel, Indiana v. Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, et al., 23S-EX-129, justices will weigh in on a decision from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission that Duke doesn’t need to relocate some of its facilities and pay for the cost of doing so.

The commission found two of Carmel’s ordinances related to the city’s request were unreasonable and void.

But the Court of Appeals of Indiana reversed in a memorandum decision in October 2022, ruling the IURC erred in its determination.

The 40-minute arguments are scheduled for 10 a.m.

In the second case, Duke Energy, Indiana, LLC v. City of Noblesville, Indiana, 23S-PL-130, Duke rejected a demand from the city of Noblesville that the company comply with local ordinances for the demolition of a home and garage, and that it obtain location improvement and building permits for a new utility substation.

A trial court granted the city’s motion for summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling in December 2022, ruling the power company must follow Noblesville’s ordinances.

The COA rejected Duke’s argument that the IURC has virtually unlimited authority over utility matters. It also rejected Duke’s challenge to the financial penalties imposed by the trial court.

The 40-minute arguments are scheduled for 11 a.m.

Justices will also hear arguments on petition to transfer in State of Indiana, acting by and through its Department of Natural Resources v. Kailee M. (Smith) Leonard and Jeffrey S. McQuary, 22A-MI-685.

The case involves a driver, Kailee Leonard, who accidentally hit and killed a dog that belonged to a DNR officer.

Leonard was charged with failing to stop after damaging property, but the state voluntarily dismissed the case after the prosecutor’s office learned Leonard told the DNR officer, Scott Johnson, about the accident shortly after it occurred.

Leonard filed a 42 U.S.C. § Section 1983 claim against Johnson in federal court, alleging Johnson lied to an investigator, which resulted in Leonard’s false arrest.

The state declined to represent Johnson, and Leonard was awarded $62,462 in damages.

Johnson later assigned his right to indemnification to Leonard, who agreed she wouldn’t collect the judgment from Johnson directly.

Leonard then filed a complaint against the state for indemnification for the false arrest judgment.

A trial court ruled Johnson lied to the investigator but still found the state was required to indemnify him.

The state appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed.

Leonard filed a petition for transfer in March, and justices invited amicus curiae briefing in May.

The 40-minute arguments are scheduled for 9 a.m.

All arguments will be in the Indiana Supreme Court Courtroom at the Statehouse and available to stream online.

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