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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues five more opinions today

In LaPorte Community School Corporation v. Maria Rosales, an 11-page, 4-1 opinion, Justice Dickson writes:

Concluding that one of the jury instructions given by the trial court could have misled the jury about a key issue regarding liability in this child wrongful death case, we reverse and remand for a new trial on the affected issue. * * *

Shepard, C.J., and Rucker and David, JJ., concur.
Sullivan, J., dissents with separate opinion. [that concludes]Because the Court fails to follow our long-standing rule that instructions are to be read as a whole – a rule that the trial court here conveyed to the jury not once but twice – and because there are a number of reasons to conclude that any ambiguity in Instruction 22 did not mislead the jury, I respectfully dissent.

In Harold J. Klinker v. First Merchants Bank, N.A., a 10-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Sullivan writes:
The trial court granted summary judgment to the plaintiff and awarded it treble damages and attorney's fees under the Indiana Crime Victims' Compensation Act, finding that the undisputed facts established that the defendant had committed criminal fraud. We reverse the judgment on the fraud claims because there are genuine issues of material fact as to whether the defendant acted with the requisite criminal intent.
In Jerrell D. White v. State of Indiana, a 12-page, 4-1 opinion, Justice David writes:
The defendant challenges the trial court's decision to allow the State's tardy habitual-offender filing. The defendant also asserts that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding that he is a habitual offender. We hold, under the circumstances of this case, that the defendant did not preserve the issue of whether the trial court properly allowed the habitual-offender filing. We also hold that the authenticated and certified evidence was sufficient to uphold the jury's determination that the defendant had two unrelated adult felony convictions. * * *

The issue of whether the trial court improperly allowed the tardy habitual-offender filing is unavailable on appeal because White failed to move for a continuance at the appropriate time. Furthermore, there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that White was convicted of two unrelated adult felony convictions. Accordingly, we find the habitual-offender enhancement is valid.

Because we summarily affirm the Court of Appeals on the remaining issues, we affirm the trial court in part and reverse the trial court in part. We remand with instructions to vacate the receiving-stolen-property conviction and the sentence imposed thereon.

Shepard, C.J., and Dickson and Rucker, JJ., concur.
Sullivan, J., dissents believing the opinion of the Court of Appeals to be correct.

In Henry L. Howard, et al. v. United States, a 7-page, 4-1 opinion, Justice Dickson writes:
The United States Court of Federal Claims has certified for our resolution the following question:
Under Indiana law, are railbanking and interim trail use pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 1274(d) uses that are within the scope of the easements acquired by the railroad companies either by prescription, condemnation, or the deed at issue; and if either is not within the scope of the easements originally acquired, is railbanking with interim tr[ai]l use a shifting public use?
Pursuant to Indiana Appellate Rule 64, we accepted the question and now answer both parts in the negative. Under Indiana law, railbanking and interim trail use pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 1274(d) are not uses within the scope of the easements, and railbanking with interim trail use does not constitute a permissible shifting public use. * * *

We hold that, under Indiana law, railbanking and interim trail use pursuant to the federal Trails Act are not within the scope of railroad easements and that railbanking and interim trail use do not constitute a permissible shifting public use.

Sullivan, Rucker, and David, JJ., concur.
Shepard, C.J., dissents, concluding that the contemplated railbanking and interim trail uses do fall within the scope of the easements presented.

In Hannah Lakes v. Grange Mutual Casualty Company, a 14-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Sullivan writes:
Several family members were injured in a car accident and divided the benefits paid by the tortfeasor's insurer. One family member – Hannah Lakes – also sought to recover under the underinsured motorist endorsement of an insurance policy that applied to all the family members involved in the accident. We reaffirm our decision in Corr v. American Family Insurance, 767 N.E.2d 535 (Ind. 2002), and hold that the tortfeasor's vehicle was underinsured because the amount actually paid to Hannah Lakes was less than the per-person limit of liability of the under-insurance endorsement.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 20, 2012 01:35 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions