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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 4 opinion(s) today (and 9 NFP memorandum decisions)

For publication opinions today (4):

In Steven Matthies v. The First Presbyterian Church of Greensburg Indiana, INC., a 12-page, 2-1 opinion, Judge Friedlander writes:

Steven Matthies appeals from the grant of summary judgment in favor of The First Presbyterian Church of Greensburg Indiana, Inc. (First Presbyterian). * * *

We conclude that the trial court properly determined that review of the issues presented would have necessitated the court to interpret and apply religious doctrine or ecclesiastical law. The First Amendment requires civil courts to refrain from interfering in such matters. See McEnroy v. St. Meinrad Sch. of Theology, 713 N.E.2d 334. We therefore conclude that the trial court properly entered summary judgment in favor of First Presbyterian.

Kirsch, J., concurs.
Crone, J., concurs in part and dissents in part with separate opinion.

I agree with the majority that reviewing the issues presented by Matthies’s breach of contract claim would require us to interpret and apply religious doctrine or ecclesiastical law, which is prohibited under the First Amendment. Therefore, I concur in the affirmance of summary judgment in favor of First Presbyterian on that claim.

Respectfully, however, I do not believe that the First Amendment would preclude us (or the trial court or a jury) from considering Matthies’s claim for unpaid vacation wages under the Wage Claim Statute. That claim, in my opinion, simply requires a determination of whether or not there was any vacation time accrued as of the date of Matthies’s termination. If there was, I believe that claim could be viable regardless of the basis for his termination. Addressing that claim might involve resolving disputed facts, interpreting the Contract, and applying the Wage Claim Statute, but it would not involve interpreting or applying religious doctrine or ecclesiastical law. Consequently, I would reverse the grant of summary judgment in favor of First Presbyterian on
that claim.

In NIPSCO Industrial Group, and, Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor v. Northern Indiana Public Service Company, et al., a 31-page opinion, Judge Barnes writes:
In this consolidated appeal, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (“OUCC”) and the NIPSCO Industrial Group (“Industrial Group”) appeal the decision of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (“Commission”) regarding two petitions filed by Northern Indiana Public Service Company (“NIPSCO”) to establish increased rates under a new statute, Indiana Code Chapter 8-1-39. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand. * * *

We conclude that the Commission improperly approved NIPSCO’s seven-year plan under the TDSIC statute because it lacked detail regarding the proposed projects for years two through seven. We also conclude that the Commission improperly established a presumption of eligibility for the projects in years two through seven. However, we conclude that the Commission properly interpreted the two-percent cap language in the TDSIC statute, and we give deference to the Commission’s decision regarding the rate recovery of retired assets. Finally, we conclude that the Commission was within its discretion to adjust the rate allocation factors to remove non-firm load; however, the Commission exceeded its statutory authority when it adjusted the allocation factors based on transmission and distribution considerations. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

In 5200 Keystone Limited Realty, LLC v. Netherlands Insurance Comp., Consolidated Insurance Comp., and Indiana Insurance Comp, a 15-page opinion, Judges Barnes writes:
5200 Keystone Limited Realty, LLC (“KLR”) appeals the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Netherlands Insurance Company (“Netherlands”), Consolidated Insurance Company (“Consolidated”), and Indiana Insurance Company (“Indiana”) (collectively “the Insurers”). We affirm.

Issue. KLR raises several issues on appeal. We need only address one issue: whether the common law “known loss” doctrine precludes KLR’s action against the Insurers to compel them to provide a defense for KLR in an action brought by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (“IDEM”) to remove pollution from land owned by KLR. * * *

Indiana has adopted the common law “known loss” doctrine as applicable to all third-party liability insurance policies. See General Housewares Corp. v. National Sur. Corp., 741 N.E.2d 408, 413 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000). This doctrine, which is not dependent upon particular policy language, derives “from the fundamental concept in insurance law that the loss be fortuitous.” Id. at 413, 415. “Simply put, the known loss doctrine states that one may not obtain insurance for a loss that has already taken place.” Id. at 413. A loss that exists at the time insurance is purchased, or one which is “‘probable or imminent,’” is not a proper subject of insurance. Id. (quoting 7 Couch on Insurance, § 102:8 at 20 (3d. ed. 1997)). * * *

[J]ust as in Crawfordsville Square, KLR as a purchaser of environmentally contaminated property was made aware of the existence of the contamination at levels above IDEM regulatory levels and that remediation definitely would be required. KLR, through adoption of Apex’s lawsuit, had taken steps to protect its financially against the costs of testing and remediation, just as the buyer in Crawfordsville Square had done by demanding an escrow payment by the seller to cover such costs. And, as we held in Crawfordsville Square, the lack of an existing IDEM enforcement action at the time KLR bought the property and obtained insurance is “essentially irrelevant . . . .” Crawfordsville Square, 906 N.E.2d at 939. This evidence conclusively demonstrates as a matter of law the existence of a known loss by KLR prior to the time it obtained insurance from the Insurers. * * *

Any claim by KLR against the Insurers related to the IDEM remediation action is conclusively barred by the known loss doctrine. The trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the Insurers, and they are not required either to defend or indemnify KLR. We affirm.

In Bruce Schaadt v. State of Indiana, a 7-page opinion, Judge Friedlander writes:
Schaadt challenges his sentence on appeal, raising the following restated issues:
1. Does the savings clause of the 2014 criminal code revision violate the Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Indiana Constitution?
2. Is Schaadt’s forty-year sentence inappropriate in light of his character and the nature of his offenses? * * *

Schaadt argues that the savings clause unconstitutionally and arbitrarily creates “two classes of drug offenders: those who committed their offenses before the change in law and those who committed their offenses after the change in law.” We find nothing arbitrary about the savings clause.

We affirm.

NFP civil decisions today (4):

In Re: The Marriage of: Regina A. Niccum v. Matthew B. Niccum (mem. dec.)

C.R. v. V.R. (mem. dec.)

Michael W. Hawkins v. Julie M. Hedge (mem. dec.)

In the Matter of the Term. of the Parent-Child Relationship of W.P., Jr., and W.P., SR. and S.D.: S.D. and W.P. v. Ind. Dept. of Child Services (mem. dec.)

NFP criminal decisions today (5):

Cody Silvers v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Samuel Trahan IV v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Katyun Marsh v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Anthony C. Martin v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Andrew J. Lessing v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 8, 2015 11:39 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions