Opinions Dec. 10, 2021

The following Indiana Supreme Court opinions were posted after IL deadline Thursday:
Chad Albert Staat and Julie Staat v. Indiana Department of Transportation
Civil tort. Affirms the Dearborn Superior Court’s summary judgment ruling in favor of the Indiana Department of Transportation against Chad and Julie Staat on their negligence suit. Finds that the condition of Interstate 74 where Chad crashed his car during a downpour was temporary because of an ongoing storm at the time of the crash. Also finds that the evidence designated by INDOT establishes that the temporary condition had continued to worsen at the time of the accident, and the Staats’ speculation that the pooling may have stabilized despite the ongoing inclement weather fails to raise “conflicting reasonable inferences.” Justice Mark Massa concurs in result with separate opinion.

Tracy Ladra v. State of Indiana and State of Indiana Department of Transportation
Civil tort. Reverses summary judgment and immunity granted to the Indiana Department of Transportation in a personal injury case following an accident involving driver Tracy Ladra. Finds summary judgment was inappropriate as INDOT knew of flooding issues for years and failed to remedy the situation before Ladra’s vehicle hydroplaned, resulting in injury. Also finds that when the government knows of an existing defect in a public thoroughfare, and when it has ample opportunity to respond, immunity does not apply simply because the defect manifests during recurring inclement weather. Remands to the Porter Superior Court for further proceedings. Justice Mark Massa dissents with separate opinion joined by Justice Geoffrey Slaughter.

Friday opinions
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Nickolas Seekins v. CHEP USA and CHEP Recycled Pallet Solutions, LLC
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson.
Civil. Affirms the Indiana Southern District Court’s grant of summary judgment to CHEP USA and CHEP Recycled Pallet Solutions in a dispute with Nickolas Seekins. Finds CHEP did not owe Seekins a duty of care under Indiana negligence law after his lost his foot in a work-related accident. Also finds the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to CHEP.

Court of Appeals of Indiana
City of Gary v. Jeff Nicholson, Douglas Grimes, Greg Serbon and Cheree Calabro, and State of Indiana
Miscellaneous. Affirms in part and reverses in part the Lake Superior Court’s grant of summary judgment to Jeff Nicholson, Douglas Grimes, Greg Serbon and Cheree Calabro’s challenge to the city of Gary’s welcoming ordinance. Finds the ordinance’s sections prohibiting city employees from detaining a person after that individual becomes eligible for release based on an immigration detainer, an administrative warrant or any other basis based solely on the belief that the person is not present legally in the United States does not violate Indiana code, nor does and the requirement that police recognize an arrest increase an individual’s risk of deportation do not violate Section 5-2-18.2-4. Also finds the ordinance’s provision stating municipal agencies are not prohibited from sending or receiving information about citizenship or immigration status does not violate statute, but the ordinance’s Section 26-52 subsections (d) through (f) violate Indiana Code § 5-2-18.2-4. Finally, finds the sections of the ordinance that prohibit an agency or agency from investigating or assisting in the investigation of a person’s citizenship or immigration status violates I.C. 5-2-18.2-3. Remands with instructions to specifically enjoin Gary from enforcing the portion of Section 26-52 that prohibits assisting in the investigation of citizenship, or immigration status of a person and subsections (d) through (f) of Section 26-55 of the ordinance. Judge Elaine Brown dissents with separate opinion.

In the Matter of M.H. (Minor Child), D.H. (Father), and H.H. (Mother) v. Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
Juvenile CHINS. Affirms the adjudication of D.H. and H.H.’s minor child, M.H., as a child in need of services. Finds the Greene Circuit Court’s findings supported its conclusions, so the trial court did not err when it adjudicated the child as a CHINS.

In the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: Dm.W. & Dq.W (Minor Children), and M.M. (Mother) & D.W. (Father) v. Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
Juvenile termination of parental rights. Affirms the termination of M.M. and D.W.’s parental rights to their children, Dm.W. and Dq.W. Finds the majority of the challenged findings are supported by the record and any findings that were erroneous did not prejudice the parents and result in harmless error. Also finds the Department of Child Services presented sufficient evidence that there is a reasonable probability that the reasons for the children’s removal from the parents’ care will not be remedied and that termination of the parents’ parental rights is in the children’s best interest. Finally, finds the juvenile court’s decision was not clearly erroneous.

Eriberto Quiroz v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Post-conviction. Affirms the denial of Eriberto Quiroz’s request for post-conviction relief from his convictions of Class A felony child molesting and Class B felony criminal confinement. Finds Quiroz has failed to carry his burden to prove that his trial and appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance.

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