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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Three decisions today from the Supreme Court [Updated]

In Michael B. Montgomery v. The Board of Trustees of Purdue University, an 14-page opinion (dissent on p. 14), Justice Boehm writes:

We hold that units of state government with twenty or more employees are subject to the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act and therefore are not governed by the Indiana Age Discrimination Act. We also hold that there is no private civil damage remedy under the Indiana Age Discrimination Act.

Purdue University employed Michael Montgomery from 1973 until he was terminated in 2002 at the age of 57 or 58. In May 2003, Montgomery sued Purdue’s Board of Trustees (“Purdue”) in Tippecanoe Superior Court alleging that the Indiana Age Discrimination Act (“IADA”) “creates a public policy exception to employment at will” and that Montgomery’s termination was because of his age and therefore in violation of the Act. * * *

We conclude that Purdue is subject to the ADEA and is therefore exempt from the IADA, and also that the IADA does not provide for private civil actions. For these reasons, the trial court properly dismissed Montgomery’s complaint for wrongful dismissal under the IADA for failure to state a claim. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Shepard, C.J., Dickson and Sullivan, JJ. concur.
Rucker, J., dissents with separate opinion.

I respectfully dissent. Mr. Montgomery is ensnarled in a trap that can best be characterized as a “Catch-22.”1 He was fired from his job because of his age and seeks relief under Indiana’s Age Discrimination Act. The majority says he is entitled to no such relief because his remedy is with the Federal Act. But Kimel teaches that persons like Mr. Montgomery must seek relief under state statutes. Indeed Kimel itself identified Indiana as among a majority of states in which “employees are protected by state age discrimination statutes, and may recover money damages from their state employers . . . .” Kimel v. Fla. Bd. of Regents, 528 U.S. 62, 91 (2000). So here we have an employee fired because of age but in effect has no remedy, according to today’s opinion, despite both state and federal legislation designed to protect employees fired because of age. Certainly the legislature could not have intended the result reached in this case.

In Ryker Painting Co. Inc. v. George E. Nunamaker, a 6-page opinion (dissent on p. 6), Justice Dickson writes:
In this labor wage dispute asserting application of the Indiana Wage Payment Statute, the defendant, David A. Ryker Painting Company, Inc., appeals the trial court's judgment in favor of an employee, the plaintiff, George E. Nunamaker. We reverse.

The plaintiff filed suit against Ryker Painting for punitive damages and attorney fees pur-suant to the Wage Payment Statute after the defendant's alleged failure to pay him at a proper rate in a timely manner for work performed on a painting project for the Tipton Community School Corporation in Tipton, Indiana. After the parties stipulated to all material facts and documentary evidence, the trial court entered a judgment in favor of the plaintiff for $6,289.92, plus attorney fees of $3,000.00. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding the Wage Payment Stat-ute inapplicable because "the legislature could not have intended that a company be required to pay treble damages every time a good faith dispute as to wages arises." David A. Ryker Painting Co., Inc. v. Nunamaker, 818 N.E.2d 989, 992 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004). We granted transfer. * * *

We find that the Wage Payment Statute does not entitle the plaintiff to either liquidated damages or attorney fees. Having previously granted transfer, we now reverse the judgment of the trial court.

Shepard, C.J., and Boehm, and Rucker, JJ., concur.
Sullivan, J., dissents with separate opinion.

I believe that the trial court properly analyzed this case and would affirm its judgment in favor of Nunamaker.

The Court’s analysis, while completely logical, proceeds from what in my view is an in-correct premise: that the Wage Payment Statute places on the employee the burden of proving his or her entitlement to be paid a certain amount under applicable law before an employer faces liability under the Statute. I think legislative intent could not be clearer that the whole purpose of the Statute is that employers must pay their employees the proper amount and pay it in a timely fashion. This purpose cannot be achieved if employers are not required to know what the proper amount is.

I note that the trial court’s and my interpretation of the Statute conforms with that of the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Labor, appearing as Amicus Curiae here. As the head of the administrative agency responsible for enforcing the Statute, the Commissioner’s in-terpretation is entitled to great weight. LTV Steel v. Griffin, 730 N.E.2d 1251, 1257 (Ind. 2000).

David Jeffrey Lee v. State of Indiana is an interlocutory appeal of Fourth Amendment issues relating to the admissability of video tapes. Part II relates to challenges under Art. 1, Sec. 11 of the Indiana Constitution. "The trial court denied his motion to suppress the sixteen videotapes Melissa brought to the police station and the 369 tapes the officers subsequently retrieved from the home. On interlocutory appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed as to the tapes brought to the station and reversed as to the tapes taken from the home." The Court's conclusion, in an opinion by Justice Boehm:
The trial court’s order is affirmed. This case is remanded for resolution on the merits.

Shepard, C.J., and Dickson, and Sullivan, JJ. concur.
Rucker, J., concurs in Part I-A and dissents in Parts I-B and II with separate opinion.

[Update 6/30/06] The decision is reported today in the Munster (NW Indiana) Times:
Highland police didn't violate a photographer's constitutional rights when they seized more than 360 videotapes from his home, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The court sent the 2003 case against a former Highland photographer -- charged with secretly videotaping his female clients while they changed clothes -- back to Lake County court for resolution.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 29, 2006 11:25 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions