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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today

In Jason Holcomb v. Walter's Dimmick Petroleum, Inc. and Glynell Kuhn, a 7-page, 3-2 opinion with a dissent on p. 7, Justice Sullivan writes:

A gas station clerk reported to police the make and license plate number of a vehicle she said had driven off without paying for gasoline. After charges against the owner of this vehicle were dismissed, the owner sued the clerk for false arrest, false imprisonment, defamation, and abuse of process. A qualified privilege available for communications to law enforcement offi-cers protects the clerk in these circumstances. * * *

In this case, the Court of Appeals took the position that there was a genuine issue of ma-terial fact as to whether or not the statements Kuhn made to the police were made without belief or grounds for belief in their truth. This is also the position taken by the dissent here. Specifi-cally, they say that there are at least two factual possibilities that preclude summary judgment: first, that “Kuhn intentionally and falsely reported Holcomb as the culprit,” or second, that Kuhn made her report “with reckless disregard of the truth.” * * *

We affirm the judgment of the trial court with respect to its decision to grant summary judgment in favor of Kuhn and Dimmick. We summarily affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals on the issue referred to in footnote 2 [ILB- re a videotape without proper foundation].

Shepard, C.J., and Boehm, J., concur.
Dickson, J., dissents with separate opinion in which Rucker, J., joins.

* * * Kuhn would have exceeded the privilege by making her statement to police without belief, or grounds for belief, in its truth.

Because of the existence of genuine issues of material fact, I believe that the trial court incorrectly granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. For these reasons, I respectfully dissent.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 13, 2006 05:03 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions