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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides two Indiana cases today

In Robert Lodholtz v. York Risk Services Group (ND Ind., Lozano), a 21-page opinion, Judge Ripple writes:

Robert Lodholtz sustained injuries in the factory of Pulliam Enterprises, Inc. (“Pulliam”). He then brought an action in the Superior Court of St. Joseph County, Indiana, against Pulliam, seeking compensation for those injuries. Pulliam in turn filed an insurance claim with its insurer, Granite State Insurance Company (“Granite”). Granite retained a claims adjuster, York Risk Services Group, Inc. (“York”). Pulliam assumed, erroneously, that Granite would provide a defense under the insurance policy and defaulted on the state court claim. Neither Granite nor York ever had communicated to Pulliam whether they believed Granite had a duty to defend Pulliam under the terms of the policy. * * *

The district court correctly granted the motion to dismiss. As the district court noted, the Court of Appeals of Indiana has held that an insurance adjuster owes no legal duty to the insured, and Mr. Lodholtz has failed to establish that the Indiana Supreme Court would disagree with that decision. * * *

We conclude that the district court appropriately dis-missed the claim against York. The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

In Howard Piltch v. Ford Motor Company (ND Ind., Moody), an 11-page opinion, Judge Bauer writes:

Howard Piltch and Barbara Nelson- Piltch (the “Piltches”) were traveling in their 2003 Mercury Mountaineer in February 2007 when they hit a patch of black ice, causing the car to slide off the road and into a wall. Upon impact, none of the car’s air bags deployed and both Piltches were injured. The Piltches filed the present action in Indiana state court against Ford Motor Company (“Ford”) in 2010, alleging the vehicle was defective under Indiana law. Ford removed the action to federal court, and shortly thereafter moved for summary judgment. On March 28, 2014, the district court granted Ford’s summary judgment motion holding that, without expert testimony, the Piltches could not create an issue of fact as to proximate cause. On appeal, the Piltches contend that (1) they state a claim for relief under the Indiana Products Liability Act (“IPLA”); (2) there is sufficient circumstantial evidence of a defective product that expert testimony is not required; (3) they are not required to produce expert testimony to establish proximate cause; and (4) the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applies, raising an inference of negligence on the part of Ford. We affirm.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 11, 2015 02:20 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions