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Monday, March 09, 2015

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 opinion(s) today (and 6 NFP memorandum decisions)

For publication opinions today (2):

In Manuel Montalvo, et. al. v. State of Indiana, ex rel. Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, a 12-page opinion by Judge Crone, the State sued three members of the East Chicago Public Library Board:

... to recover funds alleging that, in exchange for their service on the Library Board, the Appellants received the payment of health, dental, vision, and life insurance premiums on their behalf, in violation of Indiana Code Section 36-12-2-21, which states that “[a] member of a library board shall serve without compensation.” * * * In entering partial summary judgment in the State’s favor, the trial court concluded as a matter of law that the term “compensation” includes the payment of insurance premiums, and therefore the Appellants’ receipt of such compensation in exchange for their service was in violation of statutory law and constituted the misappropriation of public funds. Accordingly, the trial court entered money judgments against each of the Appellants for the reimbursement of those funds. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court erred in granting the State’s motion for partial summary judgment. Concluding that the State is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, we affirm the trial court’s entry of partial summary judgment in favor of the State. * * *

The relevant material facts are undisputed. The State Board of Accounts (“the SBOA”) conducted an audit and supplemental audit of the East Chicago Public Library for the period of January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2010.2 During the audit period, the Appellants were members of the Library Board and each received the payment of insurance premiums for health, dental, vision, and life insurance in exchange for their service on the Library Board. The SBOA referred the audit reports to the Office of the Attorney General of Indiana. On April 18, 2011, the State filed a “Complaint to Recover Public Funds” alleging that the Appellants had misappropriated public funds. * * *

Having determined as a matter of law that the Appellants received compensation in exchange for their service on the Library Board in violation of Indiana Code Section 36-12-2-21, we turn to the Appellants’ claim that a genuine issue of fact remains for trial regarding their knowledge as to the “wrongfulness” of their conduct. Appellants’ Reply Br. at 2. Specifically, the Appellants argue that Library Board members had been receiving insurance premiums for many years and that, although the SBOA clearly discovered this practice in prior audits, the SBOA never before submitted a report to the attorney general for prosecution. Thus, the Appellants claim that they were misled by the SBOA’s prior inaction and that they were without knowledge that they were prohibited from receiving the payment of insurance premiums in exchange for their service on the Library Board.

However, the Appellants’ knowledge as to the wrongfulness of their conduct is irrelevant for purposes of this appeal. * * *

In other words, if public funds have been misappropriated or diverted, the State may seek and secure the recovery of those funds. This authority is irrespective of whether the person who wrongfully received public money knew that he or she was not lawfully entitled to receive it. We recognize that such unfettered discretion by our attorney general in prosecuting civil proceedings to recover funds may lead to seemingly harsh results, as it did here. However, it is not within the province of the trial court or this Court to second-guess such decisions. * * *
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[5] We note that although not relevant for purposes of this appeal, the Appellants’ knowledge or lack thereof as to the wrongfulness of their conduct is relevant regarding the State’s claim for treble damages. * * * Because the State’s claim for treble damages is not a subject of the current appeal from the trial court’s entry of partial summary judgment, we do not address it.

In Stuart Reed and Michael Reed v. Michael Cassady, a 24-page opinion, Judge Brown writes:
Stuart Reed and Michael Reed (the “Reeds”) appeal the trial court’s order on April 22, 2014, related to certain discovery sanctions and contempt for failure to pay other previously-ordered sanctions. We affirm.
NFP civil decisions today (1):

T.R. Bulger, Inc. and Thomas R. Bulger v. Indiana Insurance Company (mem. dec.)

NFP criminal decisions today (5):

Amanda Choban v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Carol D. Geis v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Jeffrey A. Dice, II v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Derrick Morris v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

John Chupp v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 9, 2015 01:06 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions