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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides 2 Indiana cases today; plus another of general interest

In Nightingale Home Healthcare v. Anodyne Therapy (SD Ind., Judge Barker), a 15-page opinion, Judge Posner writes:

The judge had granted summary judgment in favor of Anodyne on Nightingale’s Lanham Act claim early in the litigation. Nightingale, which had not appealed that ruling, contends that no award of attorneys’ fees is justified, because the case is not “exceptional.” * * *

Nightingale continues its frivolous litigation tactics in this court by arguing that Anodyne has “unclean hands” because it failed to turn over certain documents during discovery. It is apparent that the documents are not within the scope of Nightingale’s discovery demand once omitted matter indicated by an ellipsis in Nightingale’s quotation from the demand is restored.

Nightingale argues that even if Anodyne is entitled to reimbursement for some of the attorneys’ fees that it incurred, the district court’s award is excessive because it includes fees for defending against claims (discussed in our previous opinion) that were based on state law rather than the Lanham Act. But Anodyne showed that the work that its lawyers had performed in defending against the Lanham Act claim could not be separated from their work in defending against the other claims, and Nightingale presented no rebuttal.

We not only affirm the judgment of the district court but also grant Anodyne’s motion for fees and costs pursuant to Rule 38 of the appellate rules, and we dismiss as moot Anodyne’s motion to strike Nightingale’s brief and appendix.

In Kimmel v. Western Reserve Life (ND Ind., MJ Cherry), a 15-page opinion, Judge Hamilton writes:
On November 13, 2006, Richard Kimmel applied for a $500,000 life insurance policy from Western Reserve Life Assurance Company and paid an initial premium. In return for his application and payment, he received a conditional receipt. Both Richard’s application and the conditional receipt contained a clause that expressly terminated after 60 days any life insurance coverage provided by the company pending its review of Richard’s application. Sixty days then passed without Western Reserve either accepting or rejecting Richard’s application. On February 26, 2007, Richard was killed in an automobile accident. Richard’s widow June Kimmel sought benefits under the terms of the conditional receipt. When Western Reserve denied her claim, June brought this suit. The district court granted Western Reserve’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the conditional receipt expired on its own terms and that Western Reserve had not acted in bad faith under Indiana law. The court denied as moot June’s motion for summary judgment on Western Reserve’s defense of material misrepresentation. June has appealed from the judgment. We review de novo decisions made at the summary judgment stage. * * *

Although Western Reserve’s lack of action is inexplicable, unfortunately for June it is not actionable under existing Indiana law. June has not directed us to, and we have not found, Indiana decisions recognizing an insurer’s duty of good faith in its handling of applications with those who are not yet its policyholders. * * *

June has not pointed to any statutory or contractual basis on which Indiana law would impose a duty on Western Reserve to accept or reject Richard’s application within a reasonable time. * * *

Although Western Reserve deserves criticism for its handling of Richard’s application for life insurance, its behavior is not actionable under Indiana tort law. On this issue, too, we affirm the district court.

In Research Automation v. Schrader-Bridgeport, a case out of Illinois, Judge Hamilton's opinion begins:
This case presents a relatively rare appeal of an issue that arises frequently in district courts: two parties file identical lawsuits, each a mirrorimage of the other, in different federal districts. To prevent duplication of this sort, district courts may transfer, enjoin, or dismiss one of the lawsuits. We take this opportunity to provide additional guidance on this issue for district courts and for litigants.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 23, 2010 10:50 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions