Articles Posted in Business Law

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Police officer Dwayne Runnels suffered serious injuries after he was shot by Demetrious Martin. Martin, a convicted felon who could not legally purchase or possess a firearm, received the firearm by Tarus Blackburn, who made a “straw purchase” for the firearm from KS&E Sports. Runnels filed a complaint against KS&E; Blackburn; and Edward Ellis, a KS&E officer, director, and shareholder. KS&E and Ellis moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that Ind. Code 34-12-3-3(2) granted them immunity. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) Runnel’s negligence, piercing-the-corporate-veil, and civil-conspiracy claims, which demand only money damages, must be dismissed because section 34-12-3-3(2) functions as a limited immunity statute that insulates KS&E from suits for “recovery of damages resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse of a firearm…by a third party”; (2) the statute does not immunize KS&E from Runnel’s public-nuisance claim seeking equitable relief; and (3) the statute is not preempted by federal law and does not violate either the state or federal Constitution. View "KS&E Sports v. Runnels" on Justia Law

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In an effort to benefit from a growing customer base in Hamilton County, Ed Martin Toyota requested, and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. planned to approve, that Ed Martin relocate from its Anderson, Madison County location, where it operated for several years, to the Fishers area. Prior to the move, Toyota informed its other new motor vehicle dealerships in the region, including Andy Mohr Toyota, Butler Toyota, and Tom Wood Toyota (“Dealers”), and it filed the relocation plan with the Auto Dealer Services Division of the Office of the Indiana Secretary of State (“Division”). Those three dealerships protested the relocation. The Auto Dealer Services Division dismissed their action for lack of standing—affirmed by the trial court, concluding the dealerships were outside the “relevant market area,” as defined by the Indiana Dealer Services Act. Finding that the Division's interpretation of that statutory definition was reasonable, the Supreme Court affirmed the Division's decision. View "Andy Mohr West v. Ind. Secretary of State, Auto Dealer Services Div." on Justia Law

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YTC Dream Homes, Inc. and other franchisees (collectively, YTC) filed in Lake Superior Court a contract-related action against franchisor DirectBuy, Inc. and related parties (collectively, DirectBuy). YTC filed a motion requesting pro hac vice admission of five out-of-state attorneys to represent YTC in the case. The trial court initially granted YTC’s motion but, upon the objection of DirectBuy, vacated its original order and issued an order denying YTC’s motion, holding that YTC did not overcome the presumption under Lake County Local Rule 5(C) that an attorney not licensed in Indiana is not permitted to practice before it. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Local Rule 5(C) does not create a presumption against pro hac vice admissions. Remanded to the trial court with instructions to determine, within the discretion granted by the Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 3(2), whether good cause exists for the admission of the attorneys. View "YTC Dream Homes, Inc. v. DirectBuy, Inc." on Justia Law

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TP Orthodontics’ (TPO) board of directors formed a special litigation committee (the SLC) to investigate derivative claims filed by sibling minority shareholders. Following a lengthy investigation, the SLC produced a report. Based on recommendations contained in the report TPO filed a motion to dismiss certain derivative claims, attaching a redacted version of the report in support of its motion. The SLC report had been heavily redacted to protect attorney-client communications and attorney work product. The sibling shareholders filed a motion to compel production of the full report, seeking to access the full report in order to contest the SLC’s conclusions. The trial court granted the motion. The Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court with directions for TPO to specifically identify privileged attorney-client communications and attorney work product contained within the report and the trial court to review in camera the revised redacted SLC report and privilege designations to determine whether the designated material was in fact privileged. View "TP Orthodontics, Inc. v. Kesling" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

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A steel fabrication company deposited solid waste on a landowner's property, after which the landowner (Plaintiff) filed a complaint seeking damages against multiple parties (Defendants) and on multiple grounds, including a claim for an environmental legal action (ELA). Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on his environmental legal action claim and sought to impose corporate liability on Defendants. Defendants filed cross motions for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims, except for his claim of negligence. The trial court denied Plaintiff's motions and granted Defendants' motions as to all claims, leaving for trial only Plaintiff's negligence claim and the claims of potential liability against Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that summary judgment was (1) not proper for either party on Plaintiff's ELA claim; (2) not proper for Defendants on Plaintiff's illegal dumping, fraud, nuisance, and trespass claims; (3) proper for Defendants on Plaintiff's unjust enrichment and intentional torts claims; (4) proper for certain defendants on Plaintiff's responsible corporate officer claim but improper as to others; and (5) proper for Plaintiff on his claims against one defendant as responsible corporate officer. View "Reed v. Reid" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff co-established Company. Plaintiff later sold his majority interest pursuant to an agreement calling for payments to Plaintiff and giving Plaintiff a security interest in Company's assets. Company subsequently applied for credit with Bank, which transaction made Plaintiff's security interest in Company's assets subordinate to Bank's. Thereafter, Company went out of business, leaving loans unpaid. Plaintiff brought claims against Bank for negligence, constructive fraud, actual fraud, and tortious interference with a contract. The trial court granted Bank's motion for judgment on the evidence on all claims, including finding that Bank owed no duty to Purcell. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court's ruling as to the issues of duty but reversed the trial court's judgment on the evidence as to Purcell's remaining claims. The Supreme Court granted transfer and affirmed the trial court, holding (1) there was not sufficient evidence presented in this case to withstand a motion for judgment on the evidence on Purcell's claims of fraud, deception, and tortious interference with a contract; and (2) Purcell's relationship with Bank as a subordinate creditor did not give rise to a duty of care required to prove Purcell's claims of negligence and constructive fraud. View "Purcell v. Old Nat'l Bank" on Justia Law

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In this case the Supreme Court examined whether income received by a corporation's affiliated foreign reinsurance companies falls within the ambit of Indiana's gross premium privilege tax statute and is on that basis exempt from Indiana adjusted gross income tax. The corporation in this case was UPS, which protested the Indiana Department of Revenue's audit, which disallowed the exclusion from Indiana adjusted gross income the income of UPS's affiliates. The Indiana tax court granted UPS's motion for summary judgment, reasoning that because UPS was "subject to" the premium tax, it was exempt from the adjusted gross income tax. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the record did not establish that during the years in question UPS's affiliates were doing business within the state of Indiana, which was a necessary condition in order to be "subject to" the premium tax, UPS failed in its burden of establishing that it was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Remanded. View "Ind. Dep't of Revenue v. UPS" on Justia Law

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Appellant, R.L. Turner Corporation, filed suit against Appellee, the Town of Brownsburg. The court subsequently granted Appellee's petition for attorneys' fees. The court of appeals affirmed. Appellant appealed, contending, principally, that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter the order on fees because entering a final judgment terminates a trial court's jurisdiction and the order granting Appellee's motion to dismiss constituted a final judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in awarding the petition, and noting that jurisdictional concepts were the wrong analytical tool for determining whether an Indiana trial court's post-judgment action was a valid exercise of its authority. View "R.L. Turner Corp. v. Town of Brownsburg" on Justia Law

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Franklin Electric formed two new subsidiaries and started new unemployment experience accounts with a low introductory contribution rate for each one, which equaled about half the experience rating of Franklin Electric. The Department of Workforce Development later canceled the subsidiaries' experience accounts, and all experience balances and liabilities reverted to Franklin Electric. The Department also demanded back payments, interest, and a ten percent penalty. A liability administrative law judge (LALJ) affirmed the Department's determination that the three entities were a single employer but waived the penalty imposed by the Department. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted transfer and vacated the opinion of the court of appeals and affirmed the determination of the LALJ, holding (1) the new subsidiaries were not new employers because they were not distinct and segregable from Franklin Electric; (2) Franklin Electric's experience rating should have applied to contributions made by the subsidiaries; and (3) because there was no evidence suggesting improper conduct on the part of Franklin Electric, the penalty was not appropriate. View "Franklin Elec. Co. v. Unemployment Ins. Appeals of the Ind. Dep't of Workforce Dev." on Justia Law