« Ind. Courts - More on: Purdue Exponent sues Purdue for access to surveillance video" | Main | Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today »

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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

For publication opinions today (1):

In SCI Propane, LLC; South Central Indiana Rural Electric Membership Corporation; et al v. Courtney Frederick, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Stephen Frederick, deceased, a 24-page opinion, Judge Pyle writes:

SCI Propane, LLC (“SCI”); South Central Indiana Rural Electric Membership Corporation (“SCI REMC”); and RushShelby Energy Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. (“RushShelby Energy”) (collectively, “the SCI Defendants”) appeal the trial court’s order requiring them to pay the attorney fees and litigation expenses of Courtney Frederick (“Courtney”), as Personal Representative of the Estate of Stephan Frederick, deceased (“The Estate”), resulting from the Estate’s wrongful death claim.

The SCI Defendants argue that the General Wrongful Death Statute (“GWDS”) does not allow recovery of attorney fees for decedents who are survived by dependents. Alternatively, they argue that the trial court erred in calculating attorney fees because it should have awarded the Estate only the amount of fees the Estate agreed to pay its counsel pursuant to a contingency fee agreement. The Estate cross-appeals the trial court’s reduction of its recovery based on non-party fault and requests us to remand for a calculation and award of appellate attorney fees.

With regard to the SCI Defendants’ appeal, we conclude that the trial court did not err in awarding the Estate attorney fees because, although the GWDS does not explicitly provide for the recovery of attorney fees, it does specify that damages are not limited to those enumerated in the statute. However, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in calculating its award of attorney fees because it should have limited the award to the Estate’s actual losses, as governed by its contingency fee agreement with its counsel. We remand to the trial court to revise its award of attorney fees so that it is consistent with the contingency fee agreement. With regard to the Estate’s cross-appeal, we conclude that the trial court did not err when it reduced its award of attorney fees according to fault allocation because its award of attorney fees was compensatory in nature and subject to Indiana’s Comparative Fault Act. Finally, we decline to award the Estate appellate attorney fees.

We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

NFP civil opinions today (0):

NFP criminal opinions today (2):

Joshua Frierson v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Maurice Hamler v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 13, 2014 11:27 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions