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Monday, July 13, 2015

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 opinion(s) today (and 4 NFP memorandum decisions)

For publication opinions today (1):

In Sanitary District of the City of Hammond, Indiana and the City of Hammond, Indiana v. Town of Griggith, Indiana; Town of Highland, Indiana, et al., a 22-page, 2-1 opinion, Judge Kirsch writes:

This case focuses on whether the Sanitary District of the City of Hammond, Indiana (“the District”) had the authority to cancel three long-term wastewater services contracts between it and the Town of Griffith, Indiana, the Town of Highland, Indiana, and the City of Whiting, Indiana (collectively “the Customer Communities”). Claiming that the contracts had become financially untenable and that the Customer Communities would not agree to reform the contracts, the District made a formal finding under Indiana Code section 5-22-17-5 that funds were not appropriated or otherwise available to support the continuation of performance of the contracts and passed a resolution cancelling the contracts. The Customer Communities sued the District and filed motions for summary judgment and judgment on the pleadings. The trial court granted the motions and held that the District exceeded its statutory authority when it passed the resolution, that the resolution purporting to cancel the contracts had no effect, and that the contracts were to remain in full force. The trial court ordered the parties to arbitrate all disputes arising under the contracts. The District appeals, raising the following restated issues for our review:

I. Whether the trial court erred in holding that the District was not statutorily authorized to cancel the wastewater services contracts pursuant to Indiana Code section 5-22-17-5(a); and

II. Whether the trial court erred in ordering the parties into arbitration rather than conducting judicial review where there is no dispute as to performance under the Treatment Agreements. * * *

[I] We conclude that, because the Treatment Agreements are contracts between governmental bodies, they are excluded from the scope of the Public Purchasing Statute unless otherwise authorized in the Public Purchasing Statute. Contrary to the District’s contention, we do not find that Indiana Code section 5-22-6-1 specifically authorizes contracts for services between governmental bodies. As such, under Indiana Code section 5-22-1-3(a)(1), the Public Purchasing Statute does not apply to the Treatment Agreements, and the District was not within its statutory authority to cancel the Treatment Agreements pursuant to Indiana Code section 5-22-17-5. The trial court did not err in its determination that the District did not have statutory authority to cancel the Treatment Agreements. * * *

[B]ecause we have concluded that the Public Purchasing Statute does not apply to the Treatment Agreements, judicial review under Indiana Code sections 5-22-19-1 and -2 is likewise not available. * * *

[II] [B]y entering into the Treatment Agreements with the Customer Communities, the District agreed that, if a dispute arose regarding rights or obligations under the Treatment Agreements, such dispute would be submitted to binding arbitration. Arbitration was, therefore, the method that all of the parties agreed to use if a contractual dispute arose during the contractual period, and the Treatment Agreements require arbitration when a dispute arises concerning any right or obligation under the Treatment Agreements. We, therefore, conclude that the trial court did not err when it ordered the parties into binding arbitration as to all disputes concerning the Treatment Agreements. * * *

We conclude that the trial court did not err in finding that the District lacked statutory authority to cancel the Treatment Agreements because the Public Purchasing Statute did not apply to the Treatment Agreements. The trial court also did not err in ordering the parties to arbitration for all disputes concerning the Treatment Agreements, as arbitration was mandated by the Treatment Agreements for all such disputes. We further determine that, even if the Public Purchasing Statute did apply to the Treatment Agreements, pursuant to paragraph 10A, the parties were required to submit to arbitration before any other action could be taken regarding any disputes the parties had under the Treatment Agreements. Affirmed.

Crone, J., concurs.
Robb, J., dissents with separate opinion. [which begins, at p. 19] I respectfully dissent from the majority’s determination that the District did not have statutory authority to cancel the Treatment Agreements pursuant to Indiana Code section 5-22-17-5 and was therefore not entitled to judicial review.

NFP civil decisions today (1):

Tod E. Elias v. Janet R. Elias (mem. dec.)

NFP criminal decisions today (3):

Richard McCrumb v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

David Reyes-Valdes v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Gene Hooks v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 13, 2015 09:52 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions