Articles Posted in Indiana Supreme Court

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Plaintiff was seriously injured when she was hit by a ball while attending a South Shore RailCats baseball game at their home stadium, the U.S. Steelyard. Plaintiff filed negligence and premises liability claims against South Shore Baseball and the Steelyard, alleging that Defendants breached their duty to her because they failed to extend protective netting far enough to protect her. Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff was a mere licensee, and therefore, South Shore fulfilled its duty to warn her of latent dangers. The trial court denied Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff’s claims. View "S. Shore Baseball, LLC v. DeJesus" on Justia Law

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In November 2006, The Good Samaritan Home, a nursing home where Venita Hargis was living, told Hargis’s family that Hargis had suffered a fall. Hargis died later that month as a result of the injury she sustained in the alleged fall. In November 2009, Hargis’s family discovered that Hargis’s injury had been caused by an attack from another resident and not by a fall. In October 2011, Hargis’s Estate filed a wrongful death complaint against Good Samaritan, alleging that Good Samaritan negligently caused Hargis’s death and then fraudulently concealed its negligence. Good Samaritan filed a motion to dismiss the complaint due to the Estate’s failure to file the action within two years of Hargis’s death. The trial court dismissed the complaint, concluding that fraudulent concealment does not extend or delay the two-year statutory period to file a wrongful death action. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that if a plaintiff makes the necessary factual showing, the fraudulent concealment statute may apply to toll the Wrongful Death Act’s two-year filing period. View "Alldredge v. Good Samaritan Home, Inc." on Justia Law

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After Plaintiffs’ eighteen-year-old son, a freshman pledge of a college fraternity, died from acute alcohol ingestion, Plaintiffs brought a wrongful death action against the national fraternity, the local fraternity, and the college. The trial court granted summary judgment for the national fraternity. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding that the trial court did not err in (1) denying Plaintiffs’ motion to strike an affidavit and two purported interview transcriptions designated as evidentiary material by the national fraternity; and (2) entering summary judgment for the national fraternity, as the national fraternity did not have a duty to insure the safety of the freshman pledges at the local fraternity and was not subject to vicarious liability for the actions of the local fraternity, its officers, or its members. View "Smith v. Delta Tau Delta, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs obtained a homeowners insurance policy from American Family Mutual Insurance Company. After Plaintiffs’ home sustained substantial fire damage, a dispute arose regarding the amount of insurance claim benefits payable under the policy. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a complaint against American Family and Michael Meek, the insurance agent through whom they obtained their insurance, for negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to commence the action within the applicable statute of limitations. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court was correct to grant summary judgment on the basis of the applicable two-year statute of limitations. View "Groce v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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An underinsured motorist collided with a city bus driven by Plaintiff. Plaintiff received a net workers’ compensation award of $71,958. Plaintiff also received $25,000 from the tortfeasor’s insurer. Plaintiff carried an underinsured (UM) policy issued by American Family Mutual Insurance Company that provided coverage up to $50,000 per person. Plaintiff submitted a UM claim to American Family, which denied coverage. Plaintiff filed a breach of contract action against American Family, asserting that he was entitled, under the terms of the policy, to $25,000 - the difference between his UM policy limit of $50,000 and the $25,000 he received from the tortfeasor’s insurer. The trial court granted summary judgment for American Family, concluding that the workers’ compensation benefits Plaintiff received operated as a setoff against the policy limit, thus reducing American Family’s liability to zero. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the policy language unambiguously provided for a setoff against the policy limit; but (2) because this particular set-off would reduce the policy limit below the statutory minimum, Plaintiff was entitled to recover the remaining $25,000 from American Family. View "Justice v. Am. Family Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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A driver hit Britney Meux, who later died from her injuries, and fled the scene. The State charged the alleged driver, Jason Cozmanoff, with thirteen crimes, including one count of reckless homicide. A few weeks later, Meux’s Estate sued Cozmanoff for wrongful death. The Estate then served Cozmanoff with discovery requests. If Cozmanoff were to invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to comply with the Estate’s requests, the civil jury could infer he was liable for causing Meux’s death. But if he were to provide discovery responses, the State could use his testimony and responses against him in his criminal trial. Cozmanoff moved to stay the civil case pending the resolution of his criminal prosecution, citing his Fifth Amendment privilege. The trial court granted a limited stay of discovery but ordered him to respond to the plaintiff’s complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering a stay. View "Hardiman v. Cozmanoff" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a college freshman and a fraternity pledge, sustained injuries in an incident at the fraternity. Claiming that his injuries resulted from a fraternity hazing incident, Plaintiff sought damages from the college, the campus local fraternity, the national fraternity, and one of the fraternity members. The trial court granted summary judgment for the college and the two fraternity organizations. The Supreme Court reversed the grant of summary judgment for the campus fraternity but affirmed the grant of summary judgment for the college and the national fraternity organization, holding (1) the college and the national fraternity were each entitled to judgment as a matter of law; but (2) as to the local fraternity, there remained genuine issues of material fact that precluded summary judgment. Remanded. View "Yost v. Wabash College" on Justia Law

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A fire destroyed a restaurant insured by Insurers. The Insurers brought suit against the City of Indianapolis and Veolia Water Indianapolis, LLC - a private, for-profit company responsible for operating the City’s water utility pursuant to a contract with the City - claiming that the water supply in the hydrants near the restaurant was inadequate to fight the fire. The City claimed sovereign immunity under both the common law and the Indiana Tort Claims Act (ITCA). Veolia also claimed common law sovereign immunity from liability. The trial court concluded that the City and Veolia were not entitled to sovereign immunity regarding the adequacy of the water supply. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the trial court’s rulings that Veolia was not entitled to common law sovereign immunity and that the City was not entitled to statutory sovereign immunity from liability for damages resulting from an inadequate water supply; and (2) reversed the trial court’s ruling that the City was not entitled to common law sovereign immunity, as a governmental unit’s failure to provide adequate fire protection is an exception to governmental tort liability under Campbell v. State. View "Veolia Water Indianapolis, LLC v. Nat'l Trust Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Mother informed the Department of Child Services (DCS) that her son (Son) had been molested by her twelve-year-old nephew (Nephew). During a subsequent investigation, Nephew admitted to inappropriately touching Son and one of Mother's daughters (Daughter). Mother, however, was not informed of Nephew's molestation of Daughter. Nephew was adjudicated delinquent and placed on probation, but Mother was not informed of Nephew's adjudication. Mother was later informed of Nephew's admission to the molestation of Daughter from a third party. Mother and Father (Plaintiffs) filed suit against DCS and the Evansville Police Department (EPD), alleging negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment to all defendants on grounds of immunity. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed summary judgment in favor of EPD, holding that EPD was immune from Plaintiffs' claims under the Indiana Tort Claims Act (Act); but (2) reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of DCS, concluding that it was not immune under either the Act or the child abuse reporting statute. Remanded. View "F.D. v. Ind. Dep't of Child Servs." on Justia Law

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In 2005, Plaintiff was robbed and murdered inside his room in a motel owned by Defendant. Joseph Pryor confessed to robbing and killing Plaintiff and was sentenced to eighty-five years in prison for these crimes. In 2007, Plaintiff's estate filed a complaint against Defendant, alleging that Defendant breached his duty to Plaintiff to maintain the motel in a reasonably safe manner. The jury apportioned the fault for Plaintiff's death as follows: one percent to Plaintiff, two percent to Defendant, and ninety-seven percent to Pryor. The Estate subsequently filed a motion to correct error and for a new trial. The trial court ordered a new trial limited to the issue of fault allocation but summarily denied the remainder of the Estate's motion, including the trial court's alleged errors of permitting the jury to allocate fault to Pryor and rejecting the Estate's tendered instruction that would have informed the jurors they could find Defendant liable for Pryor's criminal act. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in permitting the jury to allocate fault to Pryor and in refusing the Estate's tendered instruction that would have permitted the jury to hold Defendant liable for Pryor's intentional act. View "Santelli v. Rahmatullah" on Justia Law