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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Senator Delph Withdraws "Loser Pays" Rule

The Indiana Law Blog reports that SB88, a law which would require that the "loser" in a lawsuit pay the "winner" has been withdrawn.

The Indiana Star reports in the story entitled "Gov. Mike Pence-backed tort reform bill exits quietly",  states :
Sen. Mike Delph, who had filed the measure at the request of Gov. Mike Pence’s administration, said he withdrew Senate Bill 88 after hearing concerns from several legislators, including from Sen. Brent Steele, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The problem with the bill is simple, Steele said: “It doesn’t work.”

Steele, R-Bedford, said he had filed “exactly the same bill” in 1995 and got an earful from just about every interest group.

They convinced him, he said, that it is unworkable because determining just who is the loser in a lawsuit is difficult — and impossible in “no fault” divorce cases.

From the Author's perspective, Senator Steel is right, the law is unworkable, unpredictable, and will yield some very bizarre and unpredictable results.

Along with Delph pulling the ill-advised SB88, he is proposing an Indiana Constitutional Amendment which would require the Indiana Senate vote yes or no on a judicial retention vote with a 2/3rds majority. This would usurp the voter retention vote from Hoosier voters (who currently approve judge retention.)

Most commentators that have chimed in suggest that this is an attempt to inject partisan politics into the judge retention process. Just what Indiana needs. The Indiana judicial selection process has avoided the raw partisan ship that has plagued other states and reduced public confidence into the respective state's judicial system.


And on another note not related to business law, but directly related to Fort Wayne, ,the Author calls attention to Saturday, February 2nd's Journal Gazette ,where there are two drunken driving cases that reached disparate and seemingly unfair results. Both sentences were issued by the same Allen County judge.

In the front page case, a 33-year old blond single mother that killed a man  (Nathan Gatchall) and fled the scenes in her heavily damaged vehicle, was given not prison time. She plead "open" to the charges, meaning the judge could impose the sentence he thought appropriate. Instead of sentencing her to prison, the young woman, who had left a bar late at night and  had a .22 BAC and marijuana in her system, was given four years probation. The judge noted that the state had not charged her with causing the death of Mr. Gatchall. But when she struck and killed Mr. Gatchall, she claimed that she thought she had hit a pot hole. (No pun intended.)

But in another case, Gabriel Biddle, a 29-yo father, was ordered to serve four-years in prison in a multi-car collision that caused no deaths. The accident cause major injuries to Biddle's fiance. Biddle did have two prior DWIs and a BAC of .52. The judge ordered four years to be served, and two suspended.

In this second case, one must question the purported BAC of .55. That is at a level that would cause death in most people.

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