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M.G. v. V.P.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 27, 2017

M.G., Appellant-Respondent,
v.
V.P., Appellee-Petitioner.

         Appeal from the Lake Superior Court The Honorable Calvin D. Hawkins, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 45D02-1605-PO-124

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Shaun T. Olsen Olsen Campbell, Ltd. Merrillville, Indiana.

          Pyle, Judge.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] This case is a prime example of forum shopping for a protective order and the importance of respecting the doctrine of res judicata. M.G., who had a protective order against V.P., appeals the trial court's order granting V.P.'s third petition for a protective order against M.G. M.G. argues that the trial court should have denied V.P.'s third protective order petition based on the doctrine of res judicata because the third petition contained no new allegations from V.P.'s first and second protective order petitions that had been denied by judges sitting in two other Lake County trial courts. Concluding that V.P.'s third protective order petition was barred by res judicata, we reverse the trial court's order and remand with instructions to vacate the protective order against M.G.

         [¶2] We reverse.

         Issue

         Whether the trial court abused its discretion by granting V.P.'s third petition for a protective order.

         Facts

         [¶3] On February 21, 2016, V.P. and M.G. were involved in a physical altercation at a restaurant. Thereafter, V.P. was charged with battery of M.G.

         [¶4] On April 6, 2016, M.G. filed-in Lake Superior Court #2-a petition for a protective order against V.P. ("M.G.'s PO Petition"). That same day, the trial court issued an ex parte order for protection against V.P. and then set a hearing for May 6, 2016.

         [¶5] In the meantime, on April 11, 2016, V.P. filed-in Lake Superior Court #6-a petition for a protective order against M.G. ("V.P.'s First PO Petition"). In her petition, V.P. alleged that M.G. had stalked her based on various events that occurred on the following dates: December 21, 2015; February 10, 2016; February 21, 2016; and March 20, 2016. The crux of V.P.'s allegations were that M.G. had met with and had been texting V.P.'s husband. V.P. also alleged that she had received hang up calls, which V.P. alleged were from M.G., and she alleged that M.G. had driven past her house. Furthermore, V.P. alleged that on February 21, 2016, she saw her husband's truck parked in front of a restaurant, stopped and went into the restaurant where she found M.G. talking to her husband, and then she and M.G. got into a physical altercation.[1]Additionally, V.P. alleged that, on March 20, 2016, M.G. had tipped off police to V.P.'s location so that the police could arrest V.P. on an outstanding warrant for failing to appear at a truancy hearing for her daughter. That same day, Lake Superior Court #6 denied V.P.'s petition, finding that V.P. "ha[d] not shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that stalking ha[d] occurred sufficient to justify the issuance of an Order for Protection." (App. 19).

         [¶6] A few days later, on April 14, 2016, V.P. filed-in Lake Superior Court #3-a second petition for a protective order against M.G. ("V.P.'s Second PO Petition"). In her petition, V.P. alleged that she was a victim of stalking based on various events that had occurred on the following dates: December 21, 2015; February 10, 2016; February 21, 2016; March 27, 2016; and March 29, 2016. Again, most of V.P.'s allegations were that M.G. had met with and had texted V.P.'s husband. V.P.'s March 27th allegation was the same as her March 20, 2016 allegation in V.P.'s First PO Petition, except for the change of date. Her March 29th allegation was that M.G. had texted V.P.'s husband. Lake Superior Court #3 held a hearing on V.P.'s Second PO Petition on April 29, 2016, and it denied the petition, again finding that V.P. "ha[d] not shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that stalking ha[d] occurred sufficient to justify the issuance of an Order for Protection." (App. 28).

         [¶7] On May 6, 2016, the trial court in Lake Superior Court #2 held a hearing on M.G.'s PO Petition. Thereafter, it entered a protective order ...


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