Justices agree to hear bicyclist’s negligence case against Michigan City after pothole crash

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The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to consider a cyclist’s appeal of her negligence case against Michigan City after she was injured while riding her bike on a local road.

The high court granted transfer in just one case for the week ending Sept. 10, Laura M. Johnson v. City of Michigan City, 21S-CT-423.

In that case, cyclist Laura Johnson was injured in May 2017 after striking a pothole on Duneland Beach Drive in Michigan City. The accident caused Johnson to fly off her bicycle and onto the road, leaving her unable to walk for six months and preventing her from passing physical tests to enlist in the National Guard as she had planned.

Michigan City officials had already determined the road needed to be resurfaced and had called for bids on a project to fix it, and the resurfacing project was completed in October 2017. But Johnson sued the city for negligence in 2018.

The LaPorte Superior Court granted summary judgment to the city on the grounds that the municipality was “immune from liability” under the Indiana Tort Claims Act. Johnson appealed, but a divided Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed, with Judge Elaine Brown dissenting.

Oral arguments have yet to be scheduled.

Justices unanimously denied 12 other transfer petitions, but Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush voted to grant transfer in the final case that was denied.

In that case, Thomas E. Burrell, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 21A-CR-128, Thomas Burrell pleaded guilty to Level 3 felony dealing in methamphetamine and was sentenced to nine years with three years suspended to probation. Burrell argued on appeal that the Floyd Superior Court imposed an inappropriate sentence under Indiana Appellate Rule 7(B), but the appellate court dismissed his appeal after the state alleged Burrell had waived his right to appeal in his plea agreement.

In his petition to transfer, Burrell argued that the appellate court’s action of dismissing his appeal created an “unsustainable appellate policy.”

The full list of transfer decisions for the week ending Sept. 10 is available online.

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