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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 today (and 8 NFP)

For publication opinions today (2):

In Robert Eppl v. Christine Di Giacomo, a 16-page opinion in the case of a dispute over the return of a rental deposit, Judge Darden writes:

[Re surrender and acceptance] At issue is whether the small claims court properly interpreted and applied the Indiana's Security Deposits Statute (“the Statute”), Indiana Code chapter 32-31-3 et seq., determining when the parties' lease terminated. * * * The Statute governs landlords' duties to return security deposits to tenants. * * *

Based upon the foregoing, we conclude that Eppl's itemization of damages letter was timely because it was sent within forty-five days of the termination of the lease agreement. Thus, we find that “the evidence is without conflict and leads to but one conclusion which is opposite from that reached by the [small claims court].” Mayflower, 714 N.E.2d at 797. Accordingly, we conclude that the small claims court erred in concluding that Eppl cannot claim damages because of “the itemization being untimely,” (see Order 2); and its judgment that DiGiacomo was entitled to the return of her security deposit is contrary to law. We therefore reverse and remand to the trial court with instructions to vacate its judgment, including attorney's fees, in favor of DiGiacomo and to enter judgment in favor of Eppl. * * *

[Re itemization of damages] [W]e affirm the small claims court's determination that Eppl is not entitled to prevail in whole on his counterclaim for damages; notably, however, because DiGiacomo testified that she was responsible for some of the nail hole damage as well as the broken light fixture, we remand to the trial court with instructions to calculate the undisputed nail hole damages and expenses for repair of the broken light fixture to be deducted from the security deposit. Each party to bear his or her own attorney's fees pursuant to the American Rule.

In American Family Home Insurance Co. v. Rick Bonta , a 9-page opinion, Judge Riley writes:
American presents one issue on appeal, which we restate as follows: Whether the trial court erred when it failed to make specific findings in setting aside the jury’s verdict and granting a new trial because the court concluded that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence. * * *

[Cross-appeal] Because Bonta presents us with a threshold procedural issue, we must first address the propriety of Bonta’s cross-appeal, in which he challenges American’s standing to appeal the trial court’s Order. * * *

Because Morales was an uninsured motorist and Bonta was covered under American’s insurance policy, American was bound by the jury verdict and was liable to pay the judgment rendered at trial. As such, American had a right to step into Morales’ shoes and contest the trial court’s subsequent decision of granting Bonta a new trial. Therefore, American has standing to bring this appeal.

[Appeal] Because we are faced here with a complete absence of special findings, we reverse the trial court’s Order granting a new trial and remand to the trial court, directing reinstatement of the jury’s verdict.

CONCLUSION. Based on the foregoing, we conclude that American has standing to appeal the trial court’s Order. In addition, we hold that the trial court erred when it failed to make specific findings in setting aside the jury’s verdict because it was against the weight of the evidence. Reversed and remanded. We order the trial court to reinstate the jury’s verdict.

NFP civil opinions today (2):

A.B. v. Review Board (NFP)

Peggy Bracken v. Marine Corp. League Joseph Bray Det. Inc. (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (6):

Jack M. Estes, II v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Thomas James Newsom v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Thomas D. Eckel v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Michael Bracken v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Cassandra Gardner v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Gary C. Williams v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 4, 2011 10:56 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions