Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana
National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n v. Finnerty
In this interlocutory appeal the Supreme Court declined to adopt the apex doctrine, which can prevent parties from deposing top-level corporate executives absent the requesting party making certain initial showings, holding that remand was required for the trial court to consider a motion for a protective order with the benefit of guidance set forth in this opinion.Plaintiffs sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) alleging that despite being aware of the consequences of repetitive head trauma, the NCAA failed to implement reasonable concussion-management protocols to protect its athletes, causing three former college football players to die from a neurodegenerative disease linked to repetitive head trauma. The NCAA moved twice for a protective order to prevent Plaintiffs from deposing three of its high-ranking executives. After the trial court denied the motions the NCAA sought discretionary interlocutory review, inviting the Supreme Court to adopt the apex doctrine. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding (1) this appeal was properly before the Court; and (2) although the Court declines to adopt the apex doctrine, it establishes a framework that harmonizes its principles with the applicable trial rules to aid courts in determining whether good cause exists to prohibit or limit the deposition of a top-level official in a large organization. View "National Collegiate Athletic Ass'n v. Finnerty" on Justia Law
In re Commitment of E.F.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of a panel of the court of appeals dismissing an appeal in this temporary commitment case on the grounds that the appeal was moot, holding that "public interest exception" to mootness applied.After a hearing, the trial court found E.F. was gravely disabled and entered a temporary commitment order allowing for her emergency detention. While E.F.'s appeal was pending, the commitment order expired. The court of appeals dismissed E.F.'s appeal as moot, interpreting T.W. v. St. Vincent Hospital & Healthcare Center, Inc., 121 N.E.3d 1039 (Ind. 2019), as disfavoring the practice of applying the public interest exception except in "rare circumstances." The Supreme Court reversed, holding that E.F. should have the opportunity to make certain arguments before the court of appeals. View "In re Commitment of E.F." on Justia Law
Solarize Indiana, Inc. v. Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co.
The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal brought by Solarize Indiana, Inc. seeking judicial review of the administration decision of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) approving two filings submitted by Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana, Inc. under an expedited process known as the "Thirty-Day Rule," holding that Solarize lacked standing to bring this appeal.In objecting to Vectren's filings, Solarize, an organization that promotes the use of solar power in Indiana, asserted that the filings were not compliant with federal law. The IURC approved the filings, after which Solarize requested judicial review. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that Solarize lacked standing because it failed to show that it was "adversely affected" by the IURC's order. View "Solarize Indiana, Inc. v. Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co." on Justia Law
Riddle v. Cress
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court granting Defendants relief from a default judgment, holding that the trial court's assessments of the parties' credibility and demeanor were sufficient to establish at least "slight evidence" of excusable neglect.Plaintiff sued Defendants alleging that certain statements Defendants made constituted defamation and false reporting. Because Defendants did not enter appearances or respond to the complaint the trial court granted default judgment to Plaintiffs. The trial court granted Defendants' motion for relief from the default judgment, concluding that Defendants were sincerely confused about their obligation to respond. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the matter to the trial court for further proceedings, holding that the trial court's fact-sensitive judgments showed that Defendants were entitled to relief. View "Riddle v. Cress" on Justia Law
Morrison v. Vasquez
In these two consolidated cases, the Supreme Court held that, for the purposes of determining preferred venue pursuant to Trial Rule 75(A)(4), the actual principal office of an organization with a location in the State of Indiana, and not the location of the organization's registered agent, is the appropriate preferred venue.Here, two Court of Appeals opinions regarding preferred venue with in conflict with one another. The Supreme Court granted transfer and affirmed the trial court in one case and reversed the trial court in the other case, holding (1) a domestic organization's actual principal office and not the location of its registered agent is the appropriate preferred venue; and (2) in light of new business corporation statutes, the location of the registered agent no longer determines preferred venue for either domestic or foreign corporations. View "Morrison v. Vasquez" on Justia Law
O’Bryant v. Adams
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff's claims against Indiana-resident defendants without prejudice, holding that the trial court erred in basing its dismissal on lack of personal jurisdiction but that dismissal was nevertheless warranted on the record.The parties in this case entered into an independent contractor agreement that contained a forum-selection clause providing that the parties agreed to litigate their disputes in Texas. Plaintiff later brought suit in an Indiana circuit court alleging breach of contract and fraudulent inducement. Defendants moved to dismiss under Trial Rule 12(B)(2). The court court dismissed the complaint without prejudice, concluding that the Indiana trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over the Indiana-resident defendants because the parties agreed to litigate their dispute in Texas. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding (1) the forum-selection clause was mandatory and unambiguous in requiring that suit be brought in Texas; and (2) Plaintiff failed to satisfy its burden of showing that the clause was invalid. View "O'Bryant v. Adams" on Justia Law
Wamsley v. Tree City Village
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
Bellwether Properties, LLC v. Duke Energy Indiana, Inc.
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
Town of Ellettsville v. DeSpirito
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
Price v. Indiana Department of Child Services; Director of Indiana Department of Child Services
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