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Monday, June 18, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 3 today (and 9 NFP)

For publication opinions today (3):

In Don Morris and Randy Coakes v. Brad Crain, Richard Redpath, BioSafe Engineering, LLC, Steve Biesecker, Tyler Johnson, Brandon Ross and Cris Sollars , a 9-page opinion, Judge Bailey writes:

Appellants-Plaintiffs Donald Morris (“Morris”) and Randy Coakes (“Coakes”) appeal the grant of summary judgment in favor of Appellees-Defendants Brad Crain (“Crain”), Richard Redpath (“Redpath”), and BioSafe Engineering, LLC (“BioSafe”) upon breach of contract and equitable claims. They present a single, consolidated issue: whether the defendants demonstrated their entitlement to summary judgment. We reverse. * * *

The trial court ordered the defendants to identify how the plaintiffs had failed to meet the elements of the plaintiffs’ specified claims. This effectively challenged the plaintiffs to establish each of their claims in order to withstand summary judgment. Indeed, as there had been no trial of issues, the documents purporting to “state elements not met” necessarily assumed that all factual disputes had been resolved in the defendants’ favor. The focus upon the plaintiff’s purported failure to establish a claim is not consistent with our summary judgment standard. * * *

[T]he non-movant has no obligation to disgorge evidence in support of his claim until after the movant has met his burden.

Here, the trial court ordered the parties to implement a procedure inconsistent with summary judgment proceedings. Summary judgment was improvidently granted.

In Peru School Corp. a/k/a Peru Comm. Schools v. Gary Grant v. Peru School Corp. a/k/a Peru Comm. Schools and Stanley Hall , a 21-page opinion, Judge Vaidik writes:
Gary Grant was a school-bus driver with a yearly contract and an at-will custodian for Peru School Corporation a/k/a Peru Community Schools (hereinafter, “Peru Schools”) for nearly twenty-four years. After being terminated during the 2007-08 school year, Grant filed a complaint for wrongful termination. Following a jury trial in which the jury found in favor of Grant and awarded him nearly $175,000 in damages, Peru Schools now appeals the trial court’s denial of its motions for summary judgment and judgment on the evidence and the trial court’s admission of evidence regarding Grant’s salary as a school-bus driver and a custodian until he turns sixty-five years old.

We conclude that the trial court erred in denying Peru Schools’ motion for judgment on the evidence as it pertains to Grant’s employment as an at-will custodian because there is no substantial evidence of detrimental reliance, which is required to defeat the presumption of at-will employment. However, we reach a different result regarding Grant’s employment as a contracted school-bus driver. Because there is a genuine issue of material fact as to why Grant was fired, Grant denies one of the two grounds, and cause is required in order to terminate an employee with a contract for a definite term, we conclude that the trial court properly denied Peru Schools’ motion for summary judgment and left the matter for the jury to resolve. As for damages, because an employee discharged in breach of an employment contract for a definite term is entitled to recover his or her salary for the balance of the term, we conclude that Grant is only entitled to $2422.82 in damages, which represents the rest of his salary as a school-bus driver for the 2007-08 school year minus the unemployment compensation he received. Because of our resolution of the above issues, we do not need to reach the merits of the issues raised in Grant’s cross-appeal. We therefore affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

In Shepell Orr v. State of Indiana , an 11-page opinion, Chief Judge Robb writes:
Following a jury trial, Shepell Orr appeals his two convictions of murder, which are felonies. He raises a single issue, which we restate as whether the trial court committed reversible error in allowing the State to attempt to impeach a witness with extrinsic evidence of a prior inconsistent statement. Concluding the trial court did not reversibly err, we affirm. * * *

[W]e conclude Orr has failed to demonstrate the trial court committed an error which made a fair trial impossible or constitutes clearly blatant violations of basic and elementary principles of due process.

NFP civil opinions today (4):

Sandra Mourfield v. Melvin Mourfield (NFP)

Indiana State Police v. Earnest Howard, Jr. (NFP)

In Re the Term. of the Parent-Child Rel. of J.L.S., N.S., and M.S.; and A.S. and D.F., and J.S. v. The Indiana Dept. of Child Services (NFP)

Filmcraft Laboratories, Inc. v. 5200 Keystone Limited Realty, LLC (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (5):

Corey Weaver v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Courtney G. Tressler v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Kevin Perry v. State of Indiana (NFP)

William Capps, Jr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Tina R. Like Simmons v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 18, 2012 11:14 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions