Opinions March 10, 2021

The following 7th Circuit Court of Appeals opinions were posted after IL deadline Tuesday:
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Inc., et al. v. Eric Holcomb, Governor of Indiana, et al.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge Richard L. Young.
Civil. Affirms the dismissal of a complaint brought by owner-operators of heavy trucks challenging the increase in tolls on the Indiana Toll Road, finding the toll increase was not discriminatory in violation of the Commerce Clause.

Medical Protective Co. of Fort Wayne v. American International Specialty Lines Insurance Co., now known as AIG Specialty Insurance Co.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division. Judge Holly Brady.
Civil. Affirms the district court jury’s verdict in favor of Medical Protective Co. of Fort Wayne in a dispute over whether its insurer, now known as AIG, was required to cover a payment made to settle a medical malpractice claim. Finds the district court properly interpreted the policy in MedPro’s favor, and it did not err when it concluded that MedPro’s claim was timely brought.

Wednesday’s opinions
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
USA v. Trent Slone
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division. Chief Judge Jon E. DeGuilio.
Criminal. Affirms the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana’s application of a four-level enhancement for Trent Slone’s sentence under U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(b)(6)(B) for possessing firearms “in connection with another felony offense,” namely, drug trafficking. Finds that the district court did not clearly err in finding that there was a connection. Also finds that the court emphasized that it would impose the same sentence regardless of the guidelines range.

Indiana Court of Appeals
WTHR-TV v. Hamilton Southeastern School District and Rick Wimmer
Miscellaneous. Affirms the denial of WTHR-TV’s motion to compel the Hamilton Southeastern School District to provide documents related to the discipline of HSE employee Rick Wimmer. Finds adequate statutory authority to support the conclusion that HSE was not required to provide the underlying public records to respond to WTHR’s request, and the Hamilton Circuit Court’s conclusion that HSE’s provision of information to WTHR rather than the records themselves was not in error. Also finds the trial court did not err in concluding that HSE provided a sufficient factual basis for the incident that led to Wimmer’s suspension in its response to WTHR’s public records request. Finally, finds the trial court properly denied WTHR’s motion to compel.

Jetz Service Company, Inc. v. Ellis Ventures d/b/a Cherry Street Apartments, Michael Ellis, and Highland Quarters, LLC
Civil plenary. Affirms the enforcement of a settlement agreement between Jetz Service Co. Inc. and Ellis Ventures d/b/a Cherry Street Apartments, Michael Ellis and Highland Quarters LLC. Finds the Vigo Superior Court did not err in granting Ellis’ motion to enforce the settlement agreement. Judge Terry Crone dissents with separate opinion.

Rhea A. Harris v. Kevin L. Copas
Domestic relations. Affirms the denial of Rhea Harris’ motion to have Kevin Copas held in contempt and the Clinton Circuit Court’s interpretation of the parties’ property settlement agreement. Finds Harris’ right to due process was not violated. Also finds Harris did not hold a statutory judgment lien on the marital property. Finally, finds the trial court’s judgement was supported by the evidence, and the trial court’s failure to find Copas in contempt was not an abuse of discretion.

W.T. v. L.N., et al. (mem. dec.)
Adoption. Affirms the adoption of M.M.E. by grandparents L.N. and R.N. Finds that the Jackson Superior Court did not abuse its discretion, despite mother W.T.’s contentions.

Sarah Welch v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms the denial of Sarah Welch’s motion for discharge under Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C). Finds that the Clark Circuit Court did not clearly err and that Welch is not entitled to discharge pursuant to Criminal Rule 4(C).

Deandre Dwayne Bruce v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Criminal. Affirms Deandre Bruce’s six year sentence, with four-and-a-half years executed and one-and-a-half years suspended, for conviction ion Lake Superior Court of Level 4 felony possession of a narcotic drug. Finds that Bruce has failed to show that his sentence is inappropriate.

Richard Lee Williams v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Richard Williams’ 58-year sentence for conviction of murder. Finds sufficient evidence to rebut Williams’s claim of self-defense. Finds that although the Marion Superior Court erred when it responded to the jury’s questions in Williams’ absence, reversal is not required because Williams was not unduly prejudiced.

Steven C. Henry v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms the revocation of Steven Henry’s placement on community corrections and partial revocation of his probation. Finds the Boone Superior Court did not abuse its discretion when it found Henry in violation of community correction rules and in revoking his placement on community corrections and partially revoking his probation.

Courtney Marie Wilburn v. Howard Johnson, et al. (mem. dec.)
Domestic relation. Affirms Fulton Circuit Court’s order denying Courtney Wilburn’s petition for contempt against Howard Johnson for failing to contribute toward her college expenses and for failing to maintain health insurance coverage for Wilburn. Finds that father did not willfully disobey the October 2013 order, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Wilburn’s petition for contempt against father regarding not maintaining health insurance coverage for Wilburn.

Guardianship: Elizabeth Baumgardner v. Melissa Jenkins, et al. (mem. dec.)
Guardianship. Affirms the Clark Circuit Court’s removal of Elizabeth Baumgardner as the guardian of 8-year-old B.W. and appointing B.W.’s paternal grandmother, Melissa Jenkins, as a successor guardian. Finds that the trial court did not abuse its discretion and that its decision is not clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before it.

Termination: J S v. Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
Juvenile termination. Affirms the termination of J.S.’s parental rights to his children, J.S. and M.S. Finds father has failed to show that the Wayne Superior juvenile court’s findings of fact do not support its conclusions of law. Thus, finds Father has failed to establish that the juvenile court’s conclusions do not support the judgment, and, consequently, he has failed to show that the trial court committed clear error in terminating his parental rights. 

Eduardo Del Toro v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Post conviction. Reverses the Elkhart Superior Court’s order denying Eduardo Del Toro’s petition for post-conviction relief. Finds that Del Toro was denied effective assistance and that Del Toro cannot be convicted as an serious violent felon because the elements of a Texas burglary for which he was convicted are not substantially similar to the elements of the comparable Indiana burglary. Remands for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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