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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 opinion(s) today (and 5 NFP memorandum decisions)

For publication opinions today (2):

In Andy Mohr West, Inc. d/b/a Andy Mohr Toyota, Butler Motors, Inc. d/b/a Butler Toyota, and TW Toy, Inc. d/b/a Tom Wood Toyota v. Office of the Ind. Sec. of State, Auto Dealer Services Div. et al, a 26-page, 2-1 opinion, Judge Najam writes:

This appeal presents a question of first impression regarding an interpretation of the Indiana Dealer Services statutes. See Ind. Code §§ 9-32.

As the Supreme Court of the United States has reminded us, “[a] fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan.” King v. Burwell, ___ U.S. ___, 2015 WL 2473449 at *15 (June 25, 2015). Here, the legislative plan as it relates to the proposed relocation of a new-motor-vehicle (NMV) dealer into a new market evinces our legislature’s intent that the Division review the effects of the proposed relocation on the marketplace before the relocation may be approved. We conclude, however, that the Division’s interpretation of the relevant statutes is inconsistent with the economic rationale of the legislative plan and is not, therefore, a reasonably correct interpretation of the statutes. Instead, the Division has misconstrued the relevant statutes to deny the Dealers standing and potential remedies. In its interpretation, the Division has either disregarded or overlooked the plain text of relevant statutory provisions and, in so doing, has rendered those provisions meaningless. We reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand to the Division for further proceedings on the Dealers’ claims against Toyota. * * *

In sum, the Division’s interpretation of Sections 9-32-2-20 and 9-32-13-24(e) is unreasonable and incorrect as a matter of law. The Division misunderstands the meaning of the word “proposed” within the legislative plan. A “proposed [NMV] dealer” cannot mean only a newly created business. The Division’s misinterpretation renders other relevant statutory provisions meaningless, contrary to the basic principles of statutory construction that every word and phrase be given meaning and be harmonized with other related provisions. The Division disregards the statutory scheme and fails to account for the fact that the relocation of an existing dealer into the relevant market is every bit as much a threat, if not a greater threat, to the existing dealers within that area as the establishment of a new dealership. An agency’s interpretation that is contrary to law is entitled to no deference. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand to the Division for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

BAKER, J., concurs.
FRIEDLANDER, J., dissents with separate opinion. [that begins, at p. 20] I respectfully dissent. The Indiana Dealer Services statutes are undoubtedly inartful, but I am convinced that the Division’s interpretation is reasonable. Accordingly, I would defer to the Division’s interpretation of the statutes it is tasked with enforcing. See Chrysler Group, LLC v. Review Bd. of Ind. Dep’t of Workforce Dev., 960 N.E.2d 118, 124 (Ind. 2012) (“we defer to the agency’s reasonable interpretation of such a statute even over an equally reasonable interpretation by another party”); Ind. Wholesale Wine & Liquor Co. v. State ex rel. Ind. Alcoholic Beverage Comm’n, 695 N.E.2d 99, 105 (Ind. 1998) (once the reviewing court determined that the agency interpretation was reasonable, the court “should have terminated its analysis” and not addressed the reasonableness of other proposed interpretations).

In David V. Taylor v. Sheryl Crowder Taylor , a 20-page, 2-1 opinion, Judge Najam writes:
David Taylor (“Father”) appeals the trial court’s retroactive modification of his child support payments. He presents one issue for our review, which we revise and restate as follows: whether the trial court erred when it modified his child support payments retroactively, based on his notice of intent to relocate, before either party had filed a petition to modify child support. The trial court held that when Father filed notice of intent to move and his petition to modify custody, the court was also authorized to modify support. We disagree and hold that the retroactive support order was contrary to law because the statute requires a party to file a petition to modify a child support order. * * *

On April 15, 2011, when Father filed his relocation notice, as required by statute he notified Mother that she could file a petition to modify child support. It was not until March 6, 2013, that Mother filed a motion that could be construed as a petition to modify child support. While Father anticipated a possible modification of his child support payments, anticipation is not equivalent to the petition and actual notice required before the issue can be litigated. There is no evidence in the record before us that Husband waived or acquiesced in a retroactive child support order. Thus, we reverse and remand with instructions to the trial court to recalculate Father’s arrearage from March 6, 2013.

FRIEDLANDER, J., concurs.
BAKER, J., dissents with separate opinion. [that begins, at p. 19] I respectfully dissent. In my view, the majority’s interpretation of the statutes at issue is overly technical.

NFP civil decisions today (1):

In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: A.B., Jr., (Child), and K.T. (Mother), v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)

NFP criminal decisions today (4):

Joel Williams v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Jaime Carr v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Craig Leonard Strand v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Lori L. Cobb v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 13, 2015 12:39 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions