Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the trial court setting aside the default judgment against certain defendants and denying Plaintiff’s motion to correct error, holding that the defendants made the requisite showing under Trial Rule 60(B)(1) of a meritorious defense. Matthew Joseph accidentally discharged a firearm while cleaning it, and the bullet struck Genia Wamsley, the occupant of the adjacent unit. Plaintiff, the personal representative of Genia’s estate, brought suit against the insurer of the apartment complex and its management company (collectively, Landlords) and Joseph. None of the defendants timely answered the complaint, and Wamsley was granted an entry of default judgment. Thereafter, Landlords moved to set aside the default judgment on grounds of excusable neglect. The trial court granted the motions and denied Plaintiff’s motion to correct error. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there existed “even slight evidence of excusable neglect.” View "Wamsley v. Tree City Village" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice under Trial Rule 12(B)(6). Plaintiff brought an inverse-condemnation action against Defendant. The trial court found the statute of limitations had expired and dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice under Rule 12(B)(6). The court of appeals reversed, concluding that Indiana’s discovery rule tolled the running of the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court granted transfer, thereby vacating the court of appeals’ opinion, and reversed the trial court’s dismissal, albeit on different grounds, holding that the dismissal was premature because the face of the complaint did not establish that the asserted claim was time-barred. View "Bellwether Properties, LLC v. Duke Energy Indiana, Inc." on Justia Law

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Because this appeal was not from a final judgment, the Supreme Court, for judicial economy under this case’s particular circumstances, elected to stay this appeal’s consideration and remanded the case to the trial court. After the Town of Ellettsville’s Plan Commission approved the request of Richland Convenience Store Partners, LLC to amend a subdivision plat so Richland could move a utility easement on its property, Joseph DeSpirito, Richland’s neighbor whose property the easement benefitted, sued for judicial review, declaratory relief and associated damages and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief. An order on judicial review granted DeSpirito’s motion for summary judgment, but the order was silent on DeSpirito’s request for damages and a permanent injunction. Richland and the Commission (collectively, Appellants) filed notices of appeal. The court of appeals reversed the trial court and remanded with instructions to enter summary judgment for Appellants. The Supreme Court granted transfer. The court held that the record on appeal showed no final judgment and remanded the case to the trial court to decide whether to expressly direct entry of judgment under Trial Rule 54(B) or Under Trial Rule 56(C). View "Town of Ellettsville v. DeSpirito" on Justia Law

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Under Indiana Code section 31-25-2-5, no family case manager at the Indiana Department of Child Services can oversee more than 17 children at a time who are receiving services. The statute does not require the Department to perform any specific, ministerial acts for achieving that number. Price, a family case manager, filed a proposed class action. She alleged that her caseload was 43 children and sought an “order mandating or enjoining [D]efendants to take all necessary steps to comply with [Section 5].” The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Price’s claim prior to class certification. Judicial mandate is an extraordinary remedy—available only when the law imposes a clear duty upon a defendant to perform a specific, ministerial act and the plaintiff is clearly entitled to that relief. The statute at issue does not impose a specific, ministerial duty. View "Price v. Indiana Department of Child Services; Director of Indiana Department of Child Services" on Justia Law

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D.A. filed a petition for the expungement of several criminal conviction records. The trial court granted the petition and ordered the expungement of certain records related to D.A.’s convictions. Thereafter, Petitioner filed a second petition asking for the expungement of civil forfeiture records. The trial court denied the petition, concluding that the expungment statutes apply to arrests and criminal convictions but not to civil forfeitures. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of D.A. second expungement petition, holding that Indiana’s expungement statutes do not reach civil forfeiture records. View "D.A. v. State" on Justia Law

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The Energy and Policy Institute made three separate requests to Indiana House Representative Eric Koch under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act (APRA) seeking copies of Koch’s correspondence with various business organizations in relation to specific legislation. The Chief Counsel of the Republic Caucus denied each of these requests. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a complaint against Koch and the Indiana House Republic Caucus seeking a declaratory judgment that APRA was applicable to Defendants and that Defendants violated APRA by denying some or all of Plaintiffs’ requests. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of justiciability and, alternatively, for failure to state claim, arguing that Plaintiffs’ requests would interfere with the internal workings of the legislature and should be found non-justiciable on those grounds. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the question of whether the APRA is generally applicable to the legislature is justiciable, and the APRA does apply to the General Assembly; but (2) the question of whether the APRA requests at issue in this case are exempt from disclosure as legislative “work product” is non-justiciable. View "Citizens Action Coalition of Ind. v. Koch" on Justia Law