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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ind. Courts - "Indiana high court weighs taking up St. Joe County adoption case"

Oral argument in the case of Jason and Justina Kramer v. Catholic Charities of the Diocese was heard Monday morning at Purdue by the Indiana Supreme Court. This post from Nov. 11 briefly touches on the merits of the case itself. A story today by Madeline Buckley in the South Bend Tribune goes into more detail.The long story begins:

The Indiana Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in a St. Joseph County lawsuit that sprang from a case in which a baby’s father took custody of the child after she was placed with an adoptive family.

The state’s high court will decide whether to rule on the case, which could flesh out an adoption agency’s responsibilities when placing children with families.

The saga began more than four years ago when a Goshen family took home a baby girl in May 2010, believing the adoption would soon be finalized.

But the baby’s father established paternity after Jason and Justina Kramer took the child home. The couple say the placement by the agency, Catholic Charities, caused pain and suffering because they had bonded with the child.

The Kramers sued Catholic Charities, accusing the agency of negligence because it checked the state’s putative father registry after it placed the baby with the couple, though the adoption was not finalized. The suit argues that if the agency had checked the registry before the placement, it would have learned about the father and never placed the child with the couple in the first place.

“The emotional attachment begins right away,” said the Kramers’ attorney, Charles Rice, at the oral arguments. “It doesn’t begin when the paperwork is done.”

But attorneys for Catholic Charities have argued that the Kramers signed a release acknowledging the risk in placement of the child before the adoption is final. It was an argument St. Joseph Circuit Court Judge Michael Gotsch agreed with when he ruled in favor of the agency.

“There is an inherent risk in any adoption proceeding,” argued Catholic Charities’ attorney, J. Thomas Vetne.

But the Kramers appealed, and the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed Gotsch’s summary judgment and ordered a trial in St. Joseph County Circuit Court, where the Kramers would ask a judge to award damages. The appeals court said the release the Kramers signed did not cover alleged negligence.

Now, Catholic Charities has asked the Supreme Court to hear the case, a request the justices are considering after listening to the oral arguments.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 12, 2014 01:15 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts