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Indiana Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Injured Family

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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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