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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 3 today (and 12 NFP)

For publication opinions today (3):

In Auto-Owners Insurance Company v. Cathy Benko and Gerald Ewing, as Executors of the Estate of Laverna Ewing, Deceased, a 10-page opinion, Judge Baker writes:

In this case, a woman was injured in a vehicular accident and filed a claim for bodily injury against the man who had struck her. She settled for the policy limits of his insurance policy, but it was insufficient to cover her injuries, so she filed an underinsured motorist claim with her own insurance company, who denied the claim stating that she had not complied with a provision in the policy requiring that she bring a claim against them within two years of the accident. We conclude that the plain language of the provision would lead an ordinary policyholder to believe that they were required to bring a bodily injury claim against the alleged tortfeasor within the applicable statute of limitations, which occurred in this case. Additionally, if the insurance company intended a different interpretation, it should have stated so in plain English so that their policyholders understand what is necessary to protect their interests and collect their benefits under the policy.

Appellant-defendant Auto-Owners Insurance Company (Auto-Owners) appeals the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of appellees-plaintiffs, Cathy Benko and Gerald Ewing as Executors of the Estate of Laverna Ewing, (collectively, “the Appellees”). More particularly, Auto-Owners contends that the trial court erred by denying its motion to strike the Appellees’ untimely designated evidence that they had filed in support of their motion and by finding that Auto-Owners’s underinsured motorist coverage contractual limitation provision (the Provision) is unenforceable because it is vague and ambiguous. Concluding that the trial court did not err by denying Auto-Owners’s motion to strike or by granting the Appellees’ motion for summary judgment, we affirm.

In Luke Keys Carson v. State of Indiana , a 26-page opinion, Judge Crone writes:
Luke Keys Carson entered a woman's trailer without permission and left. Later that day, he returned and cut her hand with a knife. He also fought with another man and poked him in the abdomen with the knife. The State charged Carson with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of battery by means of a deadly weapon, burglary, and resisting law enforcement. Carson filed a notice of insanity defense. Carson was found incompetent to stand trial and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. When he was restored to competency, a bench trial was held. Two experts found that Carson was mentally ill and, as a result of that mental illness, he was unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct at the time of the crimes. The trial court found Carson not guilty of the two counts of attempted murder. As to the remaining counts, the trial court found, based on Carson's demeanor during and after the crimes, that Carson was able to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct at the time of the crimes, thereby rejecting Carson's insanity defense. The trial court found him guilty but mentally ill of two counts of battery by means of a deadly weapon, burglary, and resisting law enforcement.

On appeal, Carson argues that the trial court erred in rejecting his insanity defense because the evidence is without conflict and leads only to the conclusion that he was unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct at the time of the crimes. In the alternative, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his burglary conviction.

We conclude that the evidence of Carson's demeanor during and after the crime supports the trial court's determination that he was able to appreciate the wrongfulness of actions at the time of the crimes and therefore was guilty but mentally ill. We also find that the evidence is sufficient to support his burglary conviction. We therefore affirm his convictions.

Curtis A. Bethea v. State of Indiana is a 35-page, 2-1, three opinion decision, with the court denying post-conviction relief.

NFP civil opinions today (5):

B.M. v. M.M. and M.R.M., b/n/f M.M. (NFP)

Thomas Eaton, et al. v. City of Gary, et al. (NFP)

Rochelle M. Gibler v. Discover Bank (NFP)

R.S. v. Review Board of the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development and M.B. (NFP)

Earl R. England and Mary L. England v. Rob E. Hurford and Jennifer M. Hurford (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (7):

Mitchell Preston v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Jonathan R. Stephens v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Kevin Ferguson v. State of Indiana (NFP)

James N. Hamilton v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Clarence A. Martin, Jr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Malinda Diaz v. State of Indiana (NFP)

William Singleton v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 20, 2012 12:37 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions