Articles Posted in Injury Law

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Carol Jakubowicz and her two minor sons were involved in a car accident with Ronald Williams that resulted in injuries to the Jakubowiczs. Jakubowicz filed suit on behalf of herself and her sons against Williams. More than three years after the accident, Jakubowicz filed a motion for leave to amend her complaint and add an underinsured motorist (UIM) claim against State Farm, the Jakubowiczs’ insurer, stating that she believed Williams’ insurance policy would be insufficient to cover her damages. The trial court granted Jakubowicz’s motion for leave to amend. State Farm moved for summary judgment on the UIM claim, claiming it was barred because it was filed after the three-year limitation period in Jakubowicz’s insurance policy. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the provision in the policy requiring an insured to bring suit within three years is in direct conflict with the policy’s requirement that State Farm will only pay if the underinsured motorist’s insurance has been exhausted, the policy is ambiguous and must be construed in favor of the insured. Remanded. View "State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Jakubowicz" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff fell and injured herself when she stepped into a hole on one of the streets in Beech Grove City, Indiana. Plaintiff subsequently filed a negligence complaint against the City. The City asserted that it was immune from liability under the Indiana Tort Claims Act’s (ITCA) discretionary function immunity provision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, based on a review of the designated evidence and the Court’s existing precedent, the City was not entitled to summary judgment on the question of discretionary function immunity under the ITCA because the City did not demonstrate that the challenged act or omission was a policy decision made by consciously balancing risks and benefits. View "City of Beech Grove v. Beloat" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Plaintiffs, two separate couples, brought suit seeking damages stemming from asbestos-caused diseases. Several Defendants in each case moved for summary judgment. In the first lawsuit, which led to two interlocutory appeals, the trial court denied Defendants’ motions for summary judgment. In the second lawsuit, the trial court entered summary judgment for Defendants as a final judgment. At issue in each appeal was the trial court’s ruling on a motion for summary judgment asserting the ten-year statute of repose included in Indiana’s Product Liability Act. In all three appeals, which the Supreme Court consolidated, Plaintiffs requested reconsideration of the Court’s prior holding in AlliedSignal v. Ott. The Supreme Court (1) declined to reconsider Ott’s holdings with respect to statutory construction due to the principles of stare decisis and legislative acquiescence; but (2) concluded that the Product Liability Act’s statute of repose did not bar Plaintiffs’ claims, as the Act’s statute of repose does not apply to cases such as these where the plaintiffs have had protracted exposure to inherently dangerous foreign substances. View "Myers v. Crouse-Hinds Div. of Cooper Indus., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought several claims against multiple defendants arising out of his incarceration for a probation violation that occurred after his term of probation had expired. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s claims against all defendants. The court of appeals affirmed. Plaintiff sought transfer, contending that his claim against four individual probation officers under 42 U.S.C. 1983 was incorrectly dismissed for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court granted transfer and reversed dismissal of Plaintiff’s section 1983 claim against the individually-named probation officers, holding that Plaintiff’s complaint stated a claim for relief under section 1983 against these defendants. View "Thornton v. State" on Justia Law

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Davis Security Systems, LLC hired Donnell Caldwell as a security guard for the West Calumet Complex. Before his employment, Caldwell had been romantically involved with Stacy Knighten, a resident of the Complex. While on duty, Caldwell and Knighten were involved in an altercation, and Caldwell shot Knighten in the back, paralyzing her from the waist down. Knighten filed a complaint for damages against, among others, Davis Security under the theory of respondent superior. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Davis Security on all claims. The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of Davis Security based on Knighten’s respondent superior claim, holding that the scope of Caldwell’s duties as an employee of Davis Security and the issue of whether in discharging his weapon Caldwell engaged in conduct consistent with his duties were matters that could not be resolved by summary disposition. Remanded. View "Knighten v. E. Chicago Housing Auth." on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Darryl Clifton was struck by a car driven by Ruby McCammack and suffered fatal injuries. At the time of the collision, Darryl’s father, Ray Clifton, was home watching television. After watching a news story about a fatal car crash, Ray drove to the scene of the accident, fearing the person involved in the collision was Darryl. When he arrived, the unsuccessful resuscitation efforts had ended, and Darryl’s body had been moved and covered with a white sheet. Ray sued McCammack for negligent infliction of emotional distress. The trial court granted summary judgment to McCammack, concluding that Ray failed to meet the circumstantial factors under the bystander test. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, as a matter of law, Clifton did not meet the bystander rule’s three circumstantial factors. View "Clifton v. McCammack" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Kentucky attorney Suzanne Cassidy represented Ernest Smith in Kentucky in a federal employment-discrimination lawsuit against his former employers, Dennis Boyer and Richard Smith, and other defendants. Attorney Cassidy subsequently dismissed Boyer and Richard from the suit. Thereafter, Boyer and Richard sued Ernest and Attorney Cassidy in an Indiana state court, alleging, among other tort claims, that the Kentucky suit was frivolous and constituted malicious prosecution. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Ernest and Attorney Cassidy, determining, as relevant to this appeal, that it lacked personal jurisdiction over Attorney Cassidy. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court on the personal jurisdiction issue, holding that Indiana lacked specific jurisdiction over Attorney Cassidy because her conduct did not establish a substantial connection between herself and the state of Kentucky, and thus could not support personal jurisdiction. View "Boyer v. Smith" on Justia Law

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A gas leak occurred at the home of William and Betty Kindle, customers of SCI Propane LLC and related entities (collectively, SCI), resulting in an explosion and fire that killed one of the Kindles’ family members, Stephan Frederick. Frederick was survived by his wife and his minor son. Frederick’s Estate filed a wrongful death suit against SCI. The jury apportioned sixty-five percent liability to SCI and thirty-five percent to the Kindles. Both parties sought attorneys’ fees under the Indiana General Wrongful Death Statute (GWDS). The trial court granted the Estate’s motion and denied SCI’s motion. The Supreme Court reversed the award of attorneys’ fees under the GWDS, holding that attorneys’ fees are not recoverable as compensatory damages under the GWDS when the decedent is survived by a spouse and/or dependents. View "SCI Propane, LLC v. Frederick" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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When Jeffrey Miller lost a job opportunity with the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office, Miller filed a complaint and multiple amended complaints, alleging that several individuals and organizations committed torts against him. Miller filed a fourth complaint adding a “JOHN DOE #8” as a defendant. The next year, Miller requested leave to file a fifth amended complaint to substitute Kristine Danz as a substitute for John Doe #8, claiming that Danz’s identity was only recently discovered during a deposition. The trial court granted Danz’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that Miller’s attempt to add Danz as a named party was barred by the two-year statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of Danz where the existence and identity of Danz was not unknown to Plaintiff before he commenced this action and where he waited until after expiration of the applicable statute of limitations to substitute her name for John Doe #8. View "Miller v. Danz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Jerry Earl sustained severe injuries in a motorcycle accident. Jerry had a policy with State Farm, which provided uninsured motorist coverage. Earl and his wife Kimberly (together, Plaintiffs) sued State Farm when State Farm refused to pay out the full amount under the policy. State Farm admitted liability, and the case proceeded to a jury on the question of damages. The jury returned a verdict of $250,000, the exact amount of the coverage limit. State Farm appealed, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the coverage limit into evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the coverage limit. View "State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Earl" on Justia Law