Indiana Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Injured Family

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Update as of December 2020

In a win for Hoosiers everywhere, the Indiana Supreme Court rejected a challenge to a ruling in favor of our clients who were badly injured in a nighttime collision at a blacked-out intersection. The Tyus family, represented by Bill Winingham and Jon Noyes, filed a lawsuit against Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL), contending that IPL failed to restore power in a timely fashion to the traffic lights at the intersection, in spite of numerous complaints from drivers and passersby of the intersection’s dangerous condition. The crash resulted in brain damage to two children in the Tyus vehicle. IPL claimed that under its operating rules approved by the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission, called a tariff, it could not be sued for ordinary negligence. The Court of Appeals said that was unconstitutional, holding that the unelected commission cannot change Indiana law. The Indiana Supreme Court let that decision stand by refusing to accept the case for review, so the case can now again continue in Marion County Superior Court, where the Tyus children and their parents can seek compensation for the disabling and life-changing injuries they suffered.

December 2019

The Indiana Court of Appeals in a thirty-four-page opinion handed down Monday, September 16, ruled in favor of WKW clients in a case against Indianapolis Power and Light Co. (IPL). The case involved brain injuries to two young boys and other injuries to their brother and mother. The family was involved in a night-time intersectional collision at Binford and Kessler Boulevards on the North side of Indianapolis.

The family contended that the stoplights had lost power for over 8 hours, which caused the intersection to be very dark and difficult to see and resulted in the crash and injuries. The family further alleged that IPL failed to respond to many complaints about the outage.

IPL claimed that its operating agreement, called a tariff, with the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission (IURC) made it immune from its own negligence. It also argued that it had no legal responsibility to use reasonable care in keeping the stoplights powered.

WKW attorneys Bill Winingham and Jon Noyes argued that a regulatory body such as the IURC did not have the power to immunize IPL from its own negligence and that IPL is responsible to the public for using reasonable care in powering the stoplights. All three judges of the Indiana Court of Appeals who heard the case agreed that the attempt to give IPL immunity from negligence in the tariff was unlawful and that IPL owed a duty of care. As a result, it reinstated the negligence case against IPL. The Indiana Trial Lawyers Association wrote an amicus (friend of the court) brief supporting the WKW clients in the case.

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