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Trial Court could not reserve issue of spousal maintenance after finding no evidence requiring it in final order

In a divorce case, the Trial Court found insufficient evidence so as to support a finding that Wife was entitled to maintenance (i.e. Indiana’s version of alimony). Wife later received ruling for Social Security appeal that she was in fact disabled and the Trial Court modified its final order.

The Court of Appeals disagreed with this approach, finding:

it is clear that a trial court is to determine whether a spouse is entitled to maintenance at the time the dissolution decree is entered. Ind. Code §§ 31-15-7-1, -2. Indiana Code Section 31-15-7-2(1) and (2) require the court to make certain findings, before it considers whether maintenance is necessary. The spouse seeking maintenance has the burden of proving that he or she is entitled to maintenance. Matzat v. Matzat, 854 N.E.2d 918, 921 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006). If, at the time of dissolution, the trial court finds that a spouse has not satisfied the statutory criteria entitling him or her to maintenance, then that is the end of the matter. The dissolution decree is final. Ind. Code § 31-15-2-16(b).

www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/03251401tac.pdf.

Default judgment of $500k set aside where service narrowly defective

In injury case against the American Legion, the plaintiff made service through the sheriff who left copy of summons and complaint with registered agent’s address and then mailed them to the same address, which was not an abode or dwelling, first class. 

Manner of service failed to comply with Trial Rule 4 service on individuals or business entities and setting aside of default judgment was upheld.

www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/02281401ewn.pdf.

IN CoA reverses trial court’s judgment to pierce corporate veil

“Country Contractors, Inc. (“Country”) entered into a contract to provide excavation services for A Westside Storage of Indianapolis, Inc. (“Westside”). Country subcontracted out a substantial portion of the work and eventually left the worksite without completing the job.” Westside filed for breach of contract and slander of title against Country and its two shareholders, the Songers.

On March 11, 2013, the trial court issued its findings, conclusions, and judgment in favor of Westside against Country and against the Songers personally. The $117,542.20 damage award consisted of $51,162.86 in additional costs to complete the Westside project; $14,959.34 in prejudgment interest; $17,500.00 in attorney’s fees; and $33,920.00 in damages for delay of the project caused by Country’s breach.

On the issue of piercing the corporate veil, the CoA did not upset the finding that the corporation was substantially under-capitalized or that the shareholders did not observe corporate formalities. Rather, the focus was on the nexus between any of the elements of piercing the veil and the alleged resulting injustice. Here, the CoA could find no such nexus and so the judgment of the trial court was reversed.

With respect to the slander of title claim, Country and its subcontractor filed liens against Westside for teh same invoiced work. The sub then resolved its lien with Westside and recorded its release. Country filed its lien after the release was filed and had no independent work of its own to claim the lien. Thus there was sufficient evidence to support a slander of title claim and the award of attorneys fees was appropriate enough not upset the trial court’s discretion.

Finally, the award for delay damages was reversed as speculative.

www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/02121401tac.pdf.

Andrews v. Mor/Ryde International (1-29-14)

CoA: Pyle; Crone concurs & Barnes dissents w/ sep. opinion

In action for bad faith by sales representative against former principal, CoA affirms trial court’s ruling that punitive damages provided by Ind. Code § 24-4-7-5 (in the Indiana Sales Representative Act) are subject to the heightened burden of proof and distribution standards provided by Indiana’s civil punitive damages statute (Indiana Code §§ 34-51-3-2 and 34-51-3-6).

Both the majority and dissenting opinions noted the absence of the legislature’s guidance on how punitive damages should be handled under the ISRA.

www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/01291402rrp.pdf.

Reed v. Bethel (1-24-14)

CoA (Pyle; Barnes & Crone concur). Evidence objections at trial

www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/01241401rrp.pdf.

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