Opinions Dec. 30, 2021

Keywords Opinions

The following Indiana Supreme Court opinion was posted after IL deadline on Wednesday
Clark County REMC v. Glenn Reis, et al.
Civil tort. Reverses Clark Circuit Court’s grant of summary judgment to the former Clark REMC directors’ breach-of-contract claims regarding reimbursement benefits for former directors of Clark REMC. Finds the 2014 board policy was not an offer because it did not convey with reasonable certainty promises manifesting an intention or invitation to contract with another. Concludes with no offer, there was no contract, and the plaintiffs’ breach-of-contract claims must fail. Remands for further proceedings.

Thursday opinions
Court of Appeals of Indiana
Rhett A. Martin v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms in part and reversed in part Rhett Martin’s conviction and 65-year aggregate sentence for two counts of felony murder and arson. Finds the Benton Circuit Court did not violate Martin’s constitutional right to present a defense when it did not allow to him to force his accomplice to  appear before the jury and either testify or assert his right against self-incrimination. Rules the evidence was sufficient to sustain Martin’s conviction and the aggregate sentence was not inappropriate. Reverses the conviction for Count II, felony murder while committing or attempting to commit burglary and Count III, felony murder while committing or attempting to commit robbery.

Frederick M. Lundquist v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms the denial of Frederick Lundquist’s motion to suppress evidence arising from a search of his house, which was based on a warrant that listed the wrong address. Finds the Wabash Superior Court didn’t suppress Lundquist’s rights under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution.

Michael Akin v. Katherine Simons
Civil plenary. Affirms the Hamilton Superior Court’s grant of partial summary judgment in favor of Katherine Simons against her ex-husband, Michael Akin, regarding the intended use for $229,227.05 that he gave her. Concludes that Akin’s action against Simons is one involving a “contract for the sale of land” as contemplated by the Statute of Frauds. Holds that the trial court did not err when it found that the Statute of Frauds applied to the alleged oral agreement between the parties and bars Akin’s complaint. Also holds that Akin has failed to show that the alleged oral agreement to create a trust, even if it were proven, would be enforceable as a matter of law. Finally, holds that Akin has waived his claims that the part performance and unjust enrichment exceptions apply and that he has failed to demonstrate that the promissory estoppel exception applies.

Family Dental Care, P.C. v. Christine Mousa
Civil plenary. Affirms in part, reverses in part, remands. Concludes Dr. Christine Mousa’s futility argument against Family Dental Car, P.C. is unavailing. Finds liquidated damages and attorney fees under the Wage Payment Statute were not available to her because she bypassed the Indiana Department of Labor, resulting in her attorney never being designated by the Attorney General to seek such relief. Thus, concludes that the Lake Superior Court erred in awarding liquidated damages to Dr. Mousa but that it properly denied her request for attorney fees. Remands for the reduction of the damages award. Judge L. Mark Bailey dissents. 

Nathan McCain, as Trustee of the 237 Columbia Street Land Trust v. Town of Andrews, Indiana, and Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development
Civil Plenary. Affirms the Huntington Circuit Court’s dismissal of Nathan McCain’s complaint against the Town of Andrews for ordering the solicitation of bids to demolish his home. Rules Indiana Code § 336-7-9-8(b) and Indiana’s Unsafe building Law, I.C. Chapter 36-7-9 indicate that clock started ticking on the 10-day deadline for McCain to respond to the order began when the town “took action” by issuing the order for the demolition bids. Finds McCain had several notifications from the town about the condition of his home so his argument that Indiana Code § 36-7-9-8(b) is unconstitutional under Article 1, Section 12 of the Indiana Constitution is “an attempt to circumvent his own inaction.”

Betty Lanko v. Trumbull Insurance Company, Property-Owners Insurance Company, Auto-Owners Insurance Company, Village Community, Inc., and Absolutely Dry, LLC (mem. dec.)
Civil tort. Reverses in part, affirms in part, remands. Reverses the Porter Superior Court’s judgment on Betty Lanko’s breach of contract claims against the Village Community, Inc. homeowners’ association and remand for further proceedings. Affirms the trial court’s judgment on Lanko’s claims against Trumbull Insurance Company, Property-Owners Insurance Company, Auto-Owners Insurance Company.

Robert Kadrovach v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Post-conviction relief petition. Affirms the denial of Robert Kadrovach’s petition for post-conviction relief. Finds that Kadrovach failed to demonstrate both ineffective assistance of trial counsel and appellate counsel. Concludes that the post conviction court did not err when it denied Kadrovach’s petition for post conviction relief.

Kevin R. Patmore v. Jodi L. Patmore (mem. dec.)
Domestic relations with children. Affirms in part, reverses in part. Finds Kevin Patmore has failed to demonstrate that the Spencer Circuit Court abused its discretion by denying, in part, his motion for relief from judgment to correct error regarding his child support obligation and certain expenses for his children. Concludes, however, the father demonstrated that portions of the trial court’s March 2021 order resulted in clear error. Remands for proceedings consistent with the COA’s opinion.

Drew Alexander Osborne v. State of Indiana (mem.dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Drew Osborne’s convictions for Level 6 felony unlawful possession of a syringe and Class C misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia. Finds the state presented evidence of a probative nature from which the trier of fact could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Osborne committed the crimes.

Phillip L. Sadler, Jr. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Phillip Sadler Jr.’s conviction of Level 2 felony voluntary manslaughter. Finds that the abstract of judgment could more clearly state the offense notation, and the state does not oppose remand. Remands for the trial court to amend the abstract of judgment to more clearly state the offense for which Sadler was convicted.Ryan P. Graber and K. Renae

Graber v. Andrew Turpen (mem. dec.)
Civil plenary. Affirms a jury verdict finding Ryan and Renae Graber liable for defamation after alleging Andrew Turpin inappropriately touched their child. Finds the Hamilton Superior Court did not err in determining the statement did not constitute a judicial admission. Finds Turpen presented evidence as to this theory of defamation and was entitled to an instruction on it. Thus, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in giving Instruction 20. Finds the verdict was not contrary to law due to Turpen’s failure to show actual malice or on the fact that the jury could have found Renae abused her privilege. Finally, finds there was evidence presented from which the jury could have found Ryan’s statements were not made in good faith.

In the Matter of S.J., Le.J., Le.Y. and L.J. (Minor Children), Children in Need of Services and A.J. (Mother) and L.Y. (Father) v. Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
Juvenile CHINS. Affirms the determinations that L.Y. and A.J.’s children are children in need of services. Finds the judgment reached by the trial court is not clearly erroneous.

Jones Laboratory, LLC v. Marquita Ramsey, Courtney Jones and K.J. (mem. dec.)
Civil tort. Affirms the Marion Superior Court’s grant of default judgment to Marquita Ramsey and Courtney Jones (adoptive parents) after K.J., a minor child, was removed from their care on the basis of false positive drug tests of the adoptive parents. Finds that the gap between January and May, when Jones Laboratory, LLC finally filed its motion, was not “a reasonable time,” justifying relief, as well as finding that Jones Lab fails to establish exceptional circumstances necessary to satisfy Trial Rule 60(B)(8). Thus, finds that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Jones Lab’s motion to set aside the default judgment.

Corrie L. Anderson v. Joshua F. Anderson (mem. dec.)
Domestic relations with children. Affirms in part, reverses in part, remands. Reverses the Washington Superior Court’s child support order, finding the trial court abused its discretion in ordering a zero-dollar child support obligation without sufficient findings for such an award. Remands for further proceedings on that issue. Finds the trial court did not inappropriately carry over the custody decision from the provisional order and did not err in denying Mother’s request for joint custody of the parties’ children. Further, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Mother’s request for spousal maintenance.

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