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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 3 today (and 5 NFP)

For publication opinions today (3):

In Fishers Adolescent Catholic Enrichment Society, Inc. v. Elizabeth Bridgewater o/b/o Alyssa Bridgewater, a 44-page opinion, including a separate concurring opinion beginning on p. 35), Judge Vaidik writes:

Fishers Adolescent Catholic Enrichment Society, Inc. (“FACES”), is a private, non-profit organization with religious, educational, and social features. FACES was formed in 2006 to provide enrichment opportunities for homeschooled children. Its founders are Catholic parents and the majority, though not all, of the members are Catholic. When this dispute arose, FACES offered a number of educational courses to its high-school-aged members, none of which related to religion. FACES also sponsored social events. In fall 2008, FACES sponsored a dance, and one FACES parent, Elizabeth Bridgewater, requested special dietary accommodations for her child, Alyssa, who planned to attend. Alyssa suffers from a dietary condition that can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction if she eats certain foods. The Bridgewaters were unhappy with FACES’ response to their request and filed an accommodation complaint with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (“ICRC”). The following month, the family was expelled from FACES. They filed an additional complaint with the ICRC, alleging that FACES had retaliated against them because they filed the accommodation complaint.

FACES moved to dismiss the accommodation and retaliation complaints, arguing that the ICRC did not have jurisdiction over FACES, which it characterized as a religious organization. An administrative law judge (“ALJ”) ultimately ruled that the ICRC had jurisdiction under Indiana’s Civil Rights Law (“the civil rights law”) because FACES “relates to” education. The same ALJ later ruled on the merits of the Bridgewaters’ complaints and concluded that FACES did not commit an unlawful discriminatory practice because it accommodated Alyssa’s dietary needs, but did commit an unlawful discriminatory practice by expelling the Bridgewater family after they filed the accommodation complaint. The ALJ awarded the Bridgwaters $5000 in damages and ordered FACES to: (1) cease and desist from retaliating against persons because they filed a complaint with the ICRC; (2) post a link to the ALJ’s order on all websites on which they communicated information about the case; and (3) offer reinstatement of the Bridgewater family to full membership, including all benefits. Both parties appealed the order to the ICRC. The order was affirmed in all respects, except the amount of damages was decreased.

Both parties now appeal. The main issues raised on appeal relate to the ICRC’s jurisdiction over FACES and the corrective action FACES was ordered to undertake. In addition, the parties challenge the ALJ’s conclusions as to accommodation, retaliation, and damages. We conclude that the nature and features of FACES make the organization sufficiently related to education such that the ICRC’s jurisdiction is proper, and we uphold the ALJ’s conclusions, with one exception. We find the ALJ’s order that FACES post its decision on all websites on which they communicated information regarding the case to be unconstitutional compelled speech, and we reverse this portion of the order. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

In Jill Finfrock a/k/a Jill Bastone v. Mark Finfrock , an 11-page opinion, Judge Mathias writes:
Jill Bastone (f/k/a Jill Finfrock) (“Mother”) requested that the Porter Superior Court issue a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (“QDRO”) ordering that funds in the retirement account of her former husband, Mark Finfrock (“Father”), be applied to satisfy Father’s substantial child support arrearage. After initially granting the request, the trial court rescinded the QDRO and ordered Mother to pay attorney fees to Father. Mother now appeals and argues: (1) that the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is inapplicable to the present case; (2) that the trial court erred in refusing to issue a QDRO; and (3) that the trial court erred by ordering Father’s child support payments to be made to the Indiana State Central Collections Unit (“INSCCU”). We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand. * * *

The trial court erred in determining that the FDCPA applied to the present case. Therefore, to the extent that the trial court’s award of attorney fees was based on a perceived violation of the FDCPA, this award was improper. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Mother’s request for a QDRO to attach Father’s retirement account. Lastly, the trial court did not actually alter Father’s income withholding order to direct that the payments go to INSCCU, and we need not consider whether the trial court erred in opining that Father’s income withholding order should be altered to comply with new federal rules. We therefore reverse the trial court’s award of attorney fees, affirm its denial of Mother’s request for the entry of a QDRO, and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

In Glenn Patrick Bradford v. State of Indiana , a 25-page opinion, Sr. Judge Shepard writes:
Glenn Patrick Bradford was convicted of murder and arson in connection with the 1992 death of Tammy Lohr. His convictions were affirmed on appeal. Bradford now appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. We affirm. * * *

We find no clear error in the post-conviction court’s ruling.

NFP civil opinions today (3):

Jesse Brown v. State of Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)

In the Matter of S.D.; J.B. v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)

Philip R. Davis v. City of Fort Wayne (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (2):

B.B. v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Leonard F. Williams v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 29, 2013 12:59 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions