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Friday, September 19, 2014

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court lets COA ruling in Dram Shop Liability case stand; more

The ILB has just learned that the Supreme Court has denied transfer in the case of Pierson v. Service America (49A02-1307-CT-00561). This is a case involving dram shop liability, here is the ILB summary of the May 21st Court of Appeals opinion, including:

Trenton Gaff (“Gaff”) was intoxicated2 when his vehicle struck and killed twelve-year-old Tierra Rae Pierson and injured her cousin, twelve-year-old January Canada. Earlier in the day, Gaff had attended a Colts game at Lucas Oil Stadium and had consumed alcoholic beverages at a pre-game tailgate party, during the game, and at a post-game tailgate party. * * *

The discovery process did not yield the identity of the person or persons who had sold alcoholic beverages to Gaff inside Lucas Oil Stadium. Centerplate moved for summary judgment on the negligence claims against it. The trial court granted the motion * * *

Were we to accept Centerplate’s argument that only a single inference arises, that is, no liability can ensue because no particular server to Gaff has been identified, such would circumvent the public policy associated with the Dram Shop Act. In comparison to a neighborhood bar owner employing a few servers, a provider of alcoholic beverages using hundreds of volunteers to sell alcohol to thousands of patrons in a stadium may well seem ideally situated to lessen liability although the potential consequences are greatly increased. We do not believe this to be the intent of our Legislature. It is for the fact-finder, and not the court on summary judgment, to determine whether Centerplate knowingly provided one more alcoholic beverage to a visibly intoxicated patron.

Conclusion. Reasonable inferences to be drawn from the designated materials could permit a fact-finder to conclude that a Centerplate designee served Gaff beer while knowing him to be visibly intoxicated. As Centerplate did not, based upon undisputed facts, negate an element of Pierson’s negligence claim, summary judgment was improvidently granted. Reversed.

The vote of the Supreme Court was 4-1, with Justice Massa voting to grant transfer.

And in another case, according to this news report last evening from WTHITV 10:

The Indiana Supreme Court will review a Valley high-profile child abuse case.

The state’s top court agreed to review the case against Larry Russell of Terre Haute. He and his wife Nikki pleaded guilty to neglect and criminal confinement charges.

The court of appeals overturned Larry Russell’s 10 year prison sentence. The court felt his plea agreement did not follow state law.

The Supreme Court’s decision to take on the case means both the appellate and trial courts rulings are vacated.

Here is the ILB summary of the COA opinion in Larry D. Russell, Jr. v. State of Indiana (84A01-1312-CR-532).

ILB Comment: Presumably, both these cases and a number of others will be listed on the Clerk's Transfer List, which likely will be available to the public sometime Monday morning.

Back in the day, several clerks ago, the transfer list used to be available on Friday afternoons. Just saying...

The SCOTUS goes a step further, making publicly available the list of cases it will be considering in conference, followed after the conference with a list of those acted on.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 19, 2014 02:42 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions | Indiana Transfer Lists