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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 today (and 1 NFP)

For publication opinions today (2):

In Richard Thomas v. Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, a 9-page opinion, Judge Bradford writes:

Approximately three and one-half years after receiving his third qualifying driving conviction within a ten-year period, Richard Thomas received notice from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles that, pursuant to Indiana Code section 9-30-10-4(b), he qualified as a habitual traffic violator, and, as a result, that his driving privileges would be suspended for a period of ten years. Thomas requested relief on administrative review. This request was denied. Thomas subsequently filed a petition for judicial review of the Bureau’s determination claiming that the Bureau did not notify him of its determination regarding his status as a habitual traffic violator in a timely fashion. The trial court found against Thomas, concluding that the relevant statutory provisions did not set forth an applicable statute of limitation for imposing habitual traffic violator status, and that it did not have the power to impose any such statute of limitation.

On appeal, Thomas contends that the trial court erred by concluding that the Bureau’s notice regarding his status as a habitual traffic violator was timely. Thomas alternatively claims that even if the notice was timely, the suspension of his driving privileges should be barred by the doctrine of laches. Concluding that the Bureau timely notified Thomas that he qualified as a habitual traffic violator and that the doctrine of laches is inapplicable to the instant matter, we affirm.

In The Board of Commissioners of Delaware County a/k/a Delaware County Commissioners v. Beverly J. Evans, a 13-page, 2-1 opinion, Judge Bradford writes:
Appellant-Defendant Board of Commissioners of Delaware County (the “Board”) appeals the trial court’s denial of its motion to dismiss the complaint for breach of employment contract filed by Appellee-Plaintiff Beverly Evans. We reverse and remand with instructions. * * *

The Board argues that Evans’s employment contract violates “the very essence of elected government.” By binding the Board to its predecessor members’ choice for H.R. Director, Evans’s contract prevents the Board’s successor members from implementing the policies desired by the majority of the public who elected them. (See Figuly v. City of Douglas, 853 F. Supp. 381, 381 (D. Wyo. 1994) (discussing this “critical facet of democracy”). We agree. * * *

[W]e conclude that the Board’s predecessor members delegated to the H.R. Director the Board’s statutory duties to “establish the procedures to be followed by all county departments, offices, and agencies,” Ind. Code. § 36-2-3.5-4 (b)(4), and to “supervise county administrative offices….” Ind. Code. § 36-2-3.5-4(b)(11). Were it to be held valid, Evans’s contract would inhibit the Board, as newly constituted, from exercising the discretionary powers entrusted to it by the electorate. Evans’s contract is therefore void as against public policy, and her complaint fails to state an actionable claim. * * *

The judgment of the trial court is reversed and remanded with instructions to dismiss Evans’s complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

BAKER, J., concurs.
ROBB, C.J., dissents with opinion. [that concludes] Evans is still subject to the authority of the County Commissioners, and the policies she is charged with “developing, interpreting and applying” are not her own, they are the County’s. The major decision-making authority remains with the Commissioners. I would therefore conclude Evans’s contract does not limit the discretionary authority of the new Commissioners and Evans’s complaint for breach of her employment contract should not be dismissed.

NFP civil opinions today (1):

In Re the Paternity of C.W.R.; C.W. v. F.R. (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (0):

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 28, 2012 12:16 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions