« Ind. Decisions - Gary L. Dilk, Indianapolis, suspended for 6 months, without automatic reinstatement, now reinstated | Main | Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 opinion(s) today (and 1 NFP memorandum decisions) »

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case Aug. 31st

In Neal Secrease, Jr. v. Western & Southern Life Insurance (SD Ind., Magnus-Stinson), an 8-page, opinion, Judge Hamilton writes:

This appeal is a reminder of a district judge’s inherent power to impose the severe sanction of dismissal (on a plaintiff) or default (on a defendant) when a party deliberately tries to defraud the court. We affirm the dismissal with prejudice here. * * *

After considering the evidence, the district judge dismissed Secrease’s suit with prejudice as a sanction for seeking relief based on falsified evidence. By sandwiching pages from a different contract between the first and last pages of his own contract, the judge explained, Secrease had tried to deceive the court into thinking the document was a single contract that required arbitration. The judge found implausible Secrease’s contention that he had retained the first and last pages but not the inside pages of his own contract.

The judge also did not believe Secrease’s claims that he had combined the pages into one exhibit accidentally or that he had called the court to try to fix his error. The details of his story were inconsistent, and he could not substantiate that he had called the court.

The judge recognized that dismissal with prejudice would be a harsh sanction. She determined that the sanction was appropriate because Secrease had tried, willfully and in bad faith, to deceive the court and then, when questioned about it, gave dishonest and implausible explanations.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 1, 2015 05:09 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions