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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides three Indiana cases today, all are reversed and remanded

In JENNIFER HITCHCOCK v. ANGEL CORPS, INC. (ND Ind., Cosbey, Mag.J.), a 20-page opinion, Judge Williams writes:

Plaintiff Jennifer Hitchcock alleges that Angel Corps, a home care agency, fired her because she was pregnant, in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Angel Corps proffered multiple explanations for why Hitchcock was fired, all revolving around a bizarre incident involving the death of a 100-year-old potential client. After both parties consented to adjudication of the matter before the magistrate, he granted Angel Corps’s motion for summary judgment. We find that this was error. Hitchcock submitted evidence that the supervisor who fired her expressed animus towards pregnant women and treated Hitchcock differently after learning she was pregnant, only a few weeks before she was fired. Angel Corps’s many explanations for Hitchcock’s termination were shifting, inconsistent, facially implausible, or all of the above. Therefore, a reasonable jury could conclude that Angel Corps’s explanations were lies, and that Hitchcock was fired because she was pregnant. So we reverse and remand.
In UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. $196,969.00 UNITED STATES CURRENCY (SD Ind., Magnus-Stinson), an 8-page opinion, Judge Posner writes:
This is a companion case to United States v. Funds in the Amount of $574,840, No. 12- 3568, also decided today, also involving civil forfeiture of property connected to criminal activity. In the present case Indiana police recovered a large amount of cash in a search of the home of a suspected drug dealer named Rodney Johnson. The state turned over the money to the federal government for forfeiture proceedings—a common practice, resulting in a division of the spoils between state and federal government when the proceedings are successful. See 21 U.S.C. § 881(e); David Pimentel, “Forfeitures Revisited: Bringing Principle to Practice in Federal Court,” 13 Nev. L.J. 1, 14 n. 75 (2012); Eric Moores, Note, “Reforming the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act,” 51 Ariz. L. Rev. 777, 794-95 (2009). In Indiana, where this case arose, the state constitution requires that “fines assessed for breaches of the penal laws of the State . . . [and] all forfeitures which may accrue” must be paid into the Common School fund, which finances education rather than law enforcement. Ind. Const. art. 8, §§ 2, 3. By inviting the federal government to conduct civil forfeiture relating to criminal cases in the Indiana state courts, local and state law enforcement can receive a substantial share of the forfeited criminal proceeds and avoid (or at least try to avoid) having to pay any of it into the Common School fund. * * *

But because the ground for dismissal given by the judge and the alternative ground 8 No. 12-3414 argued by the government in this court are unsound, the judgment is REVERSED AND REMANDED.

In JUDSON ATKINSON CANDIES, INCORPORATED, v. KENRAY ASSOCIATES, INCORPORATED, CHARLES A. MCGEE AND KENNETH J. MCGEE (SD Ind., Hussmann, Jr., Mag.J), an 18-page decision, Judge Lee (of the ND Illinois, sitting by designation) writes:
In settling two lawsuits, Judson Atkinson Candies, Inc., and Kenray Associates, Inc., entered into an agreement, which required Kenray to pursue its insurer for coverage of Atkinson’s claims. But when Kenray’s attempts failed, Atkinson sought to invalidate the agreement, alleging that it had been fraudulently induced to enter into it. Because the agreement contained an integration clause, the district court, applying Indiana law, established a bright-line rule, requiring Atkinson to demonstrate that it had been induced by fraud to enter into the integration clause itself, as opposed to the agreement as a whole, in order to circumvent the parol evidence rule. Because Indiana law does not impose such a bright-line rule, we reverse. * * *

Because, in the absence of a factual inquiry, the mere presence of an integration clause does not preclude Atkinson from introducing parol evidence that it was fraudulently induced to enter into the Covenant agreement as a whole, the district court’s opinion and order is REVERSED and REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 11, 2013 12:49 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions