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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Press reports on toll road decision

Tom Coyne of the AP reports at 10:46 a.m.:

The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that a group suing to stop the state from leasing the Indiana Toll Road to foreign investors must post a $1.9 billion bond to proceed.

The high court rejected arguments by the plaintiffs that the law allowing the lease for an upfront payment of $3.8 billion is unconstitutional. The court, in upholding a lower court ruling, said "no substantial issue is raised by the plaintiffs' three contentions" that the law allowing the lease is unconstitutional.

The 4-0 ruling means the group trying to stop the lease must post the bond to continue with the case - an amount plaintiff Steve Bonney has said is more than the group can raise.

The high court, which heard oral arguments in one week ago, also rejected claims by the plaintiffs that the law amounted to special legislation because it gives more funding to counties the toll road crosses than to other counties. It said the appropriation of funds is a legislative function "unusually unsuitable to judicial review."

"The Major Moves legislation that includes allocation of lease proceeds for construction projects throughout the state does not become special legislation because it also makes lump sum allocations to seven Indiana counties," the decision reads.

The ruling upholds a May 26 decision by St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Michael Scopelitis that the case is a public lawsuit. Under Indiana law, public lawsuits are defined as challenges to the construction, financing or leasing of public improvements by a municipal corporation. * * *

The state sought an expedited hearing and decision because the private Spanish-Australian partnership that has agreed to lease the toll road for 75 years can pull out if litigation is pending June 30, when the deal is scheduled to close.

The early Indianapolis Star coverage is based substantially of the AP story.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 20, 2006 10:57 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions