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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

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

For publication opinions today (2):

In Seema Kapoor; Shiv Kapoor; Performance Support Consulting, LLC; Matt Judson; and Regional Construction Services, Inc. v. Steve Dybwad; Cronin Insurance Services, Inc.; Mark Light; et al., a 54-page opinion, Judge Bradford writes:

Defendants fulfilled various roles in assisting Plaintiffs to establish welfare benefit programs for the employees of their companies, programs which involved the purchase of cash value life insurance policies. These plans were initially known as the Cronin Insured Secured Program (“Cronin ISP Plan”) and, later, the Cronin Group Term Life Insurance Program (“Cronin GTLP Plan”). For several years, Plaintiffs made premium payments and deducted the contributions on their tax returns.

In 2012 and 2013, the Plaintiffs received deficiency notices from the IRS, indicating that it had disallowed the deductions taken for contributions to the Cronin ISP and GTLP Plans. As a result, Plaintiffs incurred costs for back taxes, penalties, and interest. All Defendants were sued by various Plaintiffs (the Kapoor Plaintiffs, the Judson Plaintiffs, or all Plaintiffs) for fraud, fraud by omission, negligent misrepresentation, negligence, unjust enrichment, money had and received, and constructive fraud. The trial court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under which relief may be granted.

On appeal, Plaintiffs argue that (1) Defendants’ alleged misrepresentations are actionable as a matter of law, (2) Plaintiffs’ fraud allegations were pled with requisite specificity, (3) Defendants had a duty to Plaintiffs, (4) the economic loss doctrine does not bar their negligence claim against Fox & Fox, (5) Plaintiffs were not required to attach certain “writings” in order to sustain a cause of action against Fox & Fox, (6) the trial court erred in dismissing the Judson Plaintiffs’ fraud claim against WRL, and (7) the trial court erred in dismissing the Judson Plaintiffs’ negligence claim against Greenwalt.

CIS and ASBE contend that (1) Plaintiffs do not have a viable cause of action because it is inherently unreasonable to rely on predictions regarding future tax consequences and (2) Plaintiffs’ fraud claims were not pled with sufficient specificity. Greenwalt argues that the Judson Plaintiffs’ (1) negligence claims against them are time-barred, (2) fraud claims were not pled with sufficient specificity, and (3) the constructive fraud claim did not allege the necessary unconscionable advantage. Fox & Fox contends that (1) allegations of fraud against it fail to state a claim, (2) fraud claims were not pled with sufficient specificity, (3) the constructive fraud claim was properly dismissed due to a lack of duty, and (4) the negligence claim was properly dismissed pursuant to the economic loss doctrine and for a lack of duty. WTB contends that (1) Washington state law governs its relationships with various Plaintiffs, (2) it had no legal duty to provide tax or financial advice to Plaintiffs and (3) any claims based on a breach of duty must therefore fail. WRL contends that (1) the Judson Plaintiffs’ fraud allegations were not pled with sufficient specificity and (2) the Judson Plaintiffs pled no facts supporting a material misrepresentation. Light contends that all of the Judson Plaintiffs’ claims against him fail as a matter of law. Because we conclude that the trial court erred in dismissing several fraud, constructive fraud, and negligence claims against various defendants, we reverse the judgment of the trial court in part and remand for further proceedings.

In Billy Deon Blackmon v. State of Indiana, a 23-page opinion, Judge Crone writes:
Billy Deon Blackmon appeals his conviction for class D felony resisting law enforcement following a jury trial. He argues that the trial court clearly erred in rejecting his claim that the prosecutor used a peremptory challenge to strike a potential juror based on the juror’s race in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The prosecutor gave two reasons for his peremptory strike, one of which was demeanor-based. The trial court allowed the peremptory strike without explicitly stating which of the prosecutor’s reasons it found to be credible and not racially motivated. On appeal, Blackmon argues that because one of the reasons was demeanor-based and the trial court failed to find that it was credible, we have no basis from which to defer to the trial court on this reason. He also argues that the second reason was a pretext for racial discrimination. Therefore, he argues that his conviction must be reversed and his case remanded for a new trial.

Given the circumstances present here, we reject Blackmon’s contention that the trial court was required to explicitly credit the prosecutor’s demeanor-based reason. We conclude that the prosecutor’s second reason is suspicious and raises an inference of discriminatory motive. However, we conclude that reversal of Blackmon’s conviction is not required because it is clear that the prosecutor would have struck the juror based on the demeanor-based reason alone.

Blackmon also asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. We conclude that the evidence is sufficient, and therefore we affirm.

NFP civil decisions today (0):

NFP criminal decisions today (6):

James L. Reynolds, Jr. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Ryan Browne v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

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

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

Walter Havvard v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Michael Shuminoff v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 15, 2015 11:21 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions