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Indiana Supreme Court: Court Analyzes Government Response To Weather Condition, Scope of Judgment Liens Following Divorce
Posted in Litigation

In Bules v. Marshall County, the Indiana Supreme Court, in a 4-1 opinion, defined what constitutes a “period of reasonable response to a weather condition” for governmental immunity under the Indiana Tort Claims Act. 

The Court held that a reasonable response period “lasts at least until the weather condition has stabilized, and immunizes the governmental unit from liability for alleged flaws in its remedial steps.”  In this case, the Court found that the accident at issue “occurred during the period of a still evolving condition” and “the statute confers immunity at least until the condition is stabilized and the responses are completed.”  The Court held that a “‘period of reasonable response’ lasts at least until the condition stops worsening.”  The Court further held that the “fact that the County’s response in some of the affected area was completed or poorly done does not establish that the condition was no longer temporary.”  “Immunity applies even if the response is in some respects inadequate . . . .”

In Johnson v. Johnson, the Indiana Supreme Court addressed the scope of a spouse’s judgment lien following the settlement agreement related to the couple’s dissolution of marriage.   Under the settlement agreement, the husband retained the real property but had to pay his former wife a total amount in a series of phases.  In this case, the settlement agreement “undeniably assumes” the “continued operation” by the husband of the family farm. 

The Court recognized that the farm’s operation required renewed lines of credit and concluded that the wife “agreed that a bank lien securing the ordinary, continuing business operations following the pattern to which she had grown accustomed would remain priority over her judgment lien.”  This was “not a modification” of the settlement agreement “but an enforcement.”  However, the Court observed that the wife did not impliedly agree to subordinate her lien to the bank’s “in an amount sufficient . . . to finance the divorce.”  The Court found that the trial court’s order subordinating the wife’s judgment lien for amounts beyond that required to secure the annual line of credit for the operation of the farm was an impermissible modification of the settlement agreement.

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