Opinions July 29, 2022

Keywords Opinions

The following 7th Circuit Court of Appeals opinions were posted after IL deadline on Thursday:
Lynn Starkey v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Inc. and Roncalli High School, Inc.
21-2524
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge Richard L. Young.
Civil. Affirms the grant of summary judgment to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis Inc. and Roncalli High School Inc. on former guidance counselor Lynn Starkey’s complaint alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as two Indiana state tort claims against the Archdiocese. Finds Starkey was a minister because she was entrusted with communicating the Catholic faith to the school’s students and guiding the school’s religious mission. Also finds the ministerial exception bars all her claims, federal and state. Judge Frank Easterbrook concurs with separate opinion.

Alice Robbins Huff v. Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation
21-1257
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge Richard L. Young.
Civil. Reverses the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the Federal Aviation Administration on Alice Robbins Huff’s complaint that the FAA violated Title VII by retaliating against her for filing a formal complaint of religious discrimination. Finds that a reasonable juror could conclude that retaliatory animus influenced Wright’s decision-making and proximately caused Huff’s termination. Remands for proceedings.

Friday opinions
Court of Appeals of Indiana
Sri Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan of Tri State, Inc. and Sumalatha Satoor v. Farmers State Bank of Alto Pass, Ill.
21A-PL-2572
Civil plenary. Affirms the findings of facts and conclusion thereon in favor of Farmers State Bank of Alto Pass, Illinois, on a claim for breach of contract filed by Sri Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan of Trist State Inc. and Sumalatha Satoor. Finds the trial court did not abuse its discretion by concluding that Farmers did not fraudulently induce Satoor to enter into a purchase agreement for real estate.

A.W. v. State of Indiana
22A-JV-150
Juvenile. Affirms 17-year-old A.W.’s adjudication for possession of a machine gun, a Level 5 felony if committed by an adult. Reverses his adjudication for dangerous possession of a firearm. Finds the Marion Superior Court violated A.W.’s right to be free from double jeopardy under Article 1, Section 14 of the Indiana Constitution on the dangerous possession adjudication. Chief Judge Cale Bradford concurs in part and dissents in part with separate opinion.

James K. Alifimoff v. Regina K. Stuart
21A-DN-2320
Domestic relations, no children. Affirms the denial of James Alifimoff’s motion to correct error with respect to the Allen Circuit Court’s distribution of the martial assets in the dissolution of his marriage to Regina Stuart. Finds the trial court did not abuse its discretion.

Danzig James Weed v. State of Indiana
22A-CR-424
Criminal. Affirms Danzig James Weed’s conviction for burglary as a Level 5 felony. Finds that Indiana Rule of Evidence 617 permitted the St. Joseph Superior Court to admit evidence seized from Weed’s backpack at the Cass County Jail in Michigan.

Brandon Darrell Hurst and Shawna Smith v. Renee A. Smith and Daniel M. Chubb
21A-JP-1719
Juvenile paternity. Affirms the award of custody of S.H. to maternal grandparents Renee Smith and Daniel Chubb but reverses the order awarding father Brandon Hurst less parenting time than contemplated by the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines and the order for Hurst to pay $141 per week in child support. Finds the Hendricks Superior Court did not abuse its discretion in awarding custody of S.H. to maternal grandparents but did abuse its discretion as to the others relating to Hurst. Remands for the trial court to either issue a written explanation for its deviation from the guidelines or award Hurst parenting time consistent with the guidelines, and to obtain child support worksheets signed by all parties and recalculate Hurst’s child support obligation accordingly.

Brian Keith Gates, Jr. v. State of Indiana
22A-CR-247
Criminal. Affirms Brian Gates’ conviction of Level 6 felony intimidation. Finds that even if Gates had preserved his claim regarding the constitutionality of the intimidation statute, it was not void for vagueness under the facts and circumstances of his case. Also finds the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Gates committed the offense with the requisite intent.

C.M. v. Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (mem. dec.)
22A-EX-85
Agency action. Affirms the decision of the Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, which affirmed the decision of an administrative law judge that C.M. had received deductible income in the form of severance pay such that he was ineligible for unemployment benefits. Finds no error.

K.H. v. Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (mem. dec.)
22A-EX-751
Agency action. Affirms the decision of the Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, which affirmed the decision of an administrative law judge that dismissed K.J.’s appeal of a claims investigator’s determination as untimely. Finds the ALJ’s findings, which were adopted and incorporate by the review board and which K.J. does not challenge, support the conclusion that K.J.’s appeal was untimely.

Linda Rugg v. Gary Community School Corporation, Karon Ramsey, and Nakia Douglas (mem. dec.)
21A-PL-2714
Civil plenary. Affirms the judgment on the pleadings in favor of the Gary Community School Corporation, Karon Ramsey and Nakia Douglas in a dispute with Linda Rugg. Finds no cause for reversal.

Don Morris and Randy Coakes v. Brad Cain (mem. dec.)
21A-PL-2538
Civil plenary. Affirms the judgment in favor of Brad Cain in a dispute with Don Morris and Randy Coakes. Finds the plaintiffs have waived their arguments by presenting arguments not made to the Marion Superior Court and by failing to present cogent arguments.

James A. Haddix and Rebecca A. Haddix  v. Richard Klink, Trustee of the Restatement of the Revocable Trust Agreement of 2/15/1993 by Richard Klink, dated 3/18/2020, an undivided onehalf interest, and Janet E. Klink, Trustee of the Restatement of the Revocable Trust Agreement of 2/15/1993 by Janet E. Klink, dated 3/18/2020, an undivided one-half interest(mem. dec.)
22A-CT-145
Civil tort. Reverses the grant of summary judgment in favor of Richard and Janet E. Klink on James A. and Rebecca A. Haddix’s motion for an injunction. Finds a genuine issue of material fact exists regarding the applicability of the common enemy doctrine. Remands for further proceedings.

Eric D. Nicholson v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
22A-CR-308
Criminal. Affirms the revocation of Eric Nicholson’s placement in the Allen County Community Corrections Residential Services Center. Finds the state proved by a preponderance of the evidence that Nicholson violated the terms of his placement.

Rachel M. Alvarez v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
22A-CR-212
Criminal. Affirms the revocation of Rachel Alvarez’s placement in community corrections and the order for her to serve a two-year sentence in the Department of Correction after she pleaded guilty to escape and admitted to violating the terms of her community corrections placement. Finds no error.

Christopher Aaron Susaraba v. State of of Indiana (mem. dec.)
21A-CR-1821
Criminal. Affirms Aaron Susaraba’s conviction of Level 1 felony dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death. Finds the state met its burden to prove the drugs that killed Susaraba’s fellow jail inmate originated with him. Sua sponte remands for correction of sentencing documents.

David Charles Reed v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
22A-CR-262
Criminal. Affirms David Charles Reed’s sentence for his convictions of dealing in methamphetamine as a Level 3 felony, possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon as a Level 4 felony, possession of a syringe as a Level 6 felony and possession of paraphernalia as a Class C misdemeanor. Finds Reed has not sustained his burden of establishing that his sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and his character.

Johnnie Lee Luellen v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
22A-CR-257
Criminal. Affirms Johnni Lee Luellen Jr.’s convictions of child molesting as a Level 4 felony and criminal confinement as a Level 5 felony. Finds the state presented sufficient evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to sustain Luellen’s convictions for child molesting and criminal confinement. Also finds no fundamental error occurred when the Lake Superior Court admitted the victim’s father’s vouching testimony.

Luther Briones v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
21A-CR-2452
Criminal. Affirms Luther Briones’ conviction for possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon as a Level 4 felony. Finds the admission of challenged evidence or the fact that the LaPorte Circuit Court did not sua sponte bifurcate the proceedings did not result in an error so prejudicial to Briones’ rights that a fair trial was impossible or that reversal is warranted. Also finds the state presented evidence of a probative value from which a trier of fact could have found Briones guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of knowingly or intentionally possessing a firearm.

Lyman Spurlock v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
21A-CR-2135
Criminal. Affirms Lyman Spurlock’s murder conviction. Finds the evidence was sufficient to rebut Spurlock’s claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

Robert E. Allen v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
22A-CR-16
Criminal. Affirms Robert Allen’s convictions of criminal confinement as a Level 5 felony, battery as a Level 5 felony and criminal reckless as a Level 5 felony, and his six-year sentence. Finds Allen knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to be present during these proceedings. Also finds the evidence is sufficient to support Allen’s conviction for criminal confinement. Finally, finds Allen’s sentence is not inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and the character of the offender.

Leslie J. Becraft v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
21A-CR-2559
Criminal. Affirms Leslie J. Becraft’s 33-year sentence for his convictions of Level 2 felony dealing in methamphetamine and Level 6 felony unlawful possession of a syringe and his admission to being a habitual offender. Finds Becraft has not met his burden to show that his sentence is inappropriate.

Willie Lee Carter v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
21A-CR-2627
Criminal. Affirms Willie Lee Carter’s convictions of dealing in methamphetamine as a Level 2 felony, operating a vehicle with a controlled substance in the blood as a Class C misdemeanor and operating a vehicle without ever having received a license as a Class C misdemeanor. Finds Carter opened the door to the state’s questions about his criminal record and other prior misconduct through his own testimony. Also finds Carter has failed to demonstrate that the admission of evidence of his prior criminal convictions and other misconduct was a blatant violation of basic and elementary principles of due process to the extent that the Vanderburgh Superior Court should have stepped in despite of Carter’s lack of objection.

Lanny Fultz v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
21A-CR-2475
Criminal. Affirms Lanny Fultz’s conviction of possession of methamphetamine as a Level 5 felony. Finds the state presented substantial evidence of Fultz’s guilt, and the testimony challenged by Fultz was cumulative of other evidence properly before the jury. Also finds no reversible error.

In the Matter of C.H. and C.B., Minor Children Alleged to be Children in Need of Services; A.E. (Mother) v. Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
22A-JC-417
Juvenile CHINS. Affirms the adjudication of mother A.E.’s children as children in need of services. Finds the Hendricks Superior Court did not clearly err.

In re the Involuntary Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of J.L.W. (Minor Child) and J.W. (Father) v. Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
22A-JT-303
Juvenile termination of parental rights. Affirms the order involuntarily terminating father J.W.’s parent-child relationship with J.L.W. Finds the termination order was not clearly erroneous.

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