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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides three today

In John Kimbrough, III v. State of Indiana, an 8-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Rucker writes:

Defendant John W. Kimbrough was convicted of multiple counts of child molesting and sentenced to an aggregate term of eighty years. Concluding the trial court abused its sentencing discretion the Court of Appeals remanded this cause with instructions to impose an aggregate term of forty years. We grant transfer and affirm the judgment of the trial court. * * *

In summary, because the trial court correctly entered its sentencing statement in compliance with the dictates of Anglemyer and because the “appropriateness” of a sentence has no bearing on whether a sentence is erroneous, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in imposing Kimbrough’s sentence. Further, Kimbrough did not seek review and revision of his sentence under Indiana Appellate Rule (7)(B).

In Abby Allen and Walter Moore v. Clarian Health Partners, Inc., an 8-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Rucker writes:
Uninsured patients filed a putative class action complaint against a hospital alleging breach of contract and seeking a declaration that rates the hospital billed were unreasonable and unenforceable. The trial court granted the hospital’s motion to dismiss. We affirm the trial court’s judgment. * * *

Before receiving treatment Allen, who is uninsured and not covered by Medicare or Medicaid, signed a form contract drafted by Clarian under which she agreed to pay all charges associated with her treatment. The contract did not specify a dollar amount for services rendered, but provided that Allen “guarantees payment of the account.” Clarian provided medical treatment to Allen and then billed its “chargemaster” rates for medical services and supplies in the amount of $15,641.64. Patients’ two-count putative class action complaint alleges breach of contract and seeks declaratory judgment, namely, that rates the hospital bills its uninsured patients are unreasonable and unenforceable. According to the complaint, if Allen had been insured then Clarian would have accepted $7,308.78 for the same services and supplies. The complaint alleges that Clarian charges only uninsured patients the chargemaster rates, while “[i]nsured patients and Medicare/Medicaid patients pay significantly discounted rates for the same services and supplies.”

Clarian moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(6). The trial court granted the motion. Patients appealed and the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded this cause for further proceedings. Among other things the Court of Appeals concluded that because the contract did not contain a price term the reasonable value of services should be implied, and the issue of reasonableness requires resolution by a fact-finder. ... We disagree with our colleagues, and having previously granted transfer thereby vacating the opinion of the Court of Appeals, see Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A), we now affirm the judgment of the trial court. * * *

We align ourselves with those courts that have recognized the uniqueness of the market for health care services delivered by hospitals, and hold that Patients’ agreement to pay “the account” in the context of Clarian’s contract to provide medical services is not indefinite and refers to Clarian’s chargemaster. As a result, we cannot impute a “reasonable” price term into this contract. See First Fed. Sav. Bank of Ind. v. Key Markets, Inc., 559 N.E.2d 600, 604 (Ind. 1990) (refusing to engraft reasonableness language onto a real estate lease, where the express provision at issue was “well understood in the business community and commonly found in such leases”). Because Patients’ complaint stated no facts on which the trial court could have granted relief, it properly granted Clarian’s motion to dismiss. Having thus resolved Patients’ breach of contract claim, we need not reach Patients’ declaratory judgment claim.

ILB: For background, see this April 30, 2012 ILB entry.

In Hugh David Reed v. Edward Reid; Reid Machinery, Inc.; North Vernon Drop Forge, Inc.;Jennings Manufacturing Co., Inc.; Reid Metals, Inc.; Glen White; Douglas Dibble; et al., a 35-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Rucker writes:

After a steel fabrication company deposited solid waste on a landowner’s property the landowner filed a complaint seeking damages against multiple parties and on multiple grounds, including a claim for an environmental legal action. Both sides moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motions with respect to some claims and denied the motions with respect to others. We affirm the trial court in part, reverse in part, and remand this cause for further proceedings. * * *

[This opinion deals with the ELA (environmental legal action statute), illegal dumping, private nuisance, trespass, and many other claims]

We affirm the trial court as follows: denial of summary judgment for David on his ELA claim; denial of summary judgment for David on his claims that Edward and his corporations are liable under the corporate law doctrine of piercing the corporate veil; denial of summary judgment for David on his claim against Jennings Manufacturing as successor to Forge; grant of summary judgment for Defendants on David’s unjust enrichment claim; grant of summary judgment for Defendants on David’s intentional torts claim; and grant of summary judgment for Dibble and White on David’s responsible corporate officer claim.

We reverse the trial court as follows: denial of summary judgment for David on David’s claim against Edward as responsible corporate officer of Forge; grant of summary judgment for Defendants on David’s ELA claim; grant of summary judgment for Defendants on David’s illegal dumping claim; grant of summary judgment for Defendants on David’s claim of fraud; grant of summary judgment for Defendants on David’s nuisance claim; grant of summary judgment for Defendants on David’s trespass claims; grant of summary judgment for Defendants as responsible corporate officers of Forge; grant of summary judgment for Jennings Manufacturing on David’s successor liability claim; and grant of summary judgment for Reid Metals on its personal jurisdiction claim.

This cause is remanded for further proceedings.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 19, 2012 10:46 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions