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Arflack v. Town of Chandler

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 26, 2015

Thomas L. Arflack, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
Town of Chandler, Indiana; Chandler Town Council; and Town of Chandler Advisory Plan Commission, Appellees-Defendants

Page 298

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 299

Appeal from the Warrick Circuit Court. The Honorable David O. Kelley, Judge. Cause No. 87C01-1404-PL-472.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: C. Gregory Fifer, Applegate Fifer Pulliam, LLC, Jeffersonville, Indiana.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: S. Anthony Long, Long & Mathies Law Firm, Boonville, Indiana.

Riley, Judge. Baker J. concurs. Vaidik, C.J. concurs in result with separate opinion.

OPINION

Page 300

Riley, Judge.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

[¶ 1] Appellant-Plaintiff, Thomas L. Arflack (Arflack), appeals the trial court's grant of Appellees-Defendants', Town of Chandler, Chandler Town Council, and Town of Chandler Advisory Plan Commission (collectively, Chandler), motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(6).

[¶ 2] We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

ISSUES

[¶ 3] Arflack raises two issues on appeal, which we consolidate and restate as the following single issue: Whether the trial court erred in dismissing Arflack's complaint for failing to state a claim pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(6).

[¶ 4] In its brief, Chandler raises one issue, which we restate as: Whether the trial court's order to dismiss was a final, appealable judgment.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[¶ 5] On January 7, 2013, Arflack was appointed by the Chandler Town Council (Town Council) to fill a vacant position as a citizen member of the Town of Chandler Advisory Plan Commission (Advisory Plan Commission) with an unexpired term ending on December 31, 2013. Arflack subsequently served the unexpired term for which he was appointed.

[¶ 6] During its regular meeting of January 6, 2014, the Town Council voted on a motion to reappoint Arflack to a new four-year term. The motion was approved by a vote of four members in favor and one member against. At the next regular meeting of the Advisory Plan Commission on January 12, 2014, Arflack was elected president by majority vote. Thereafter, on January 21, 2014, the Town Council unanimously recalled its vote approving Arflack to the Advisory Plan Commission. On March 17, 2014, the Town Council appointed Thomas Woolen as Arflack's replacement.

[¶ 7] On April 4, 2014, Arflack filed a verified complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief, asserting due process violations because the Town Council had failed to provide him with notice and seeking a declaration that the removal was invalid pursuant to Indiana Code section 34-14-1-2. Arflack further requested a permanent injunction directing that his appointment be recognized until the expiration of the current term. On April 23, 2014, Chandler filed a motion to dismiss Arflack's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted in accordance with Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(6). On May 13, 2014, the trial court held a hearing on Chandler's motion and fifteen days later entered its order, summarily granting Chandler's motion to dismiss and awarding Arflack " thirty days to file an amended complaint." (Appellant's App. p. 4).

[¶ 8] Arflack now appeals. Additional facts will be provided as necessary.

DISCUSSION AND DECISION

I. Jurisdiction

[¶ 9] Because Chandler presents us with a threshold procedural question, we will address its jurisdictional issue prior to proceeding to the merits of the appeal. Specifically,

Page 301

Chandler contends that we did not acquire jurisdiction over this appeal because the trial court's grant of its motion to dismiss was not a final judgment. Because the trial court allowed Arflack thirty days to cure the defects of his verified complaint, Chandler maintains that ...


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