McKinley, Inc. a/k/a McKinley Associates, Inc. d/b/a Summer Wood Apartment Homes, Appellant-Defendant,
Michelle Skyllas, Appellee-Plaintiff.
from the Lake Superior Court. Trial Court Cause No.
45D04-1101-CT-12 The Honorable Bruce D. Parent, Judge.
Attorneys for Appellants Larry L. Barnard, Eric M. Blume,
Carson Boxberger LLP Fort Wayne, Indiana
Attorney for Appellee Adam J. Sedia, Rubino, Ruman, Crosmer
& Polen Dyer, Indiana
Sharpnack, Senior Judge.
of the Case
McKinley, Inc., appeals the trial court's grant of
Michelle Skyllas' motion to correct error, which set
aside the trial court's prior grant of summary judgment
to McKinley. McKinley also appeals the trial court's
grant of Skyllas' motion to withdraw and amend
admissions. We reverse and remand with
McKinley raises three issues, which we consolidate and
restate as: Whether the trial court erred by granting
and Procedural History
Skyllas hired her second cousin, attorney Samuel Vazanellis,
to sue McKinley. Skyllas filed suit on January 12, 2011,
claiming she was injured on January 25, 2009, in a slip and
fall on McKinley's property. She alleged McKinley
negligently failed to remove snow and ice. McKinley filed a
third-party complaint against Snow Pros, Inc., claiming Snow
Pros was responsible for removing snow and ice on its
Skyllas concedes that Vazanellis was uncommunicative from the
beginning of their attorney-client relationship, and that she
had to approach him at family gatherings to obtain
information about her case. Meanwhile, he failed to litigate
her case. In 2015, McKinley filed two motions to dismiss
Skyllas' complaint due to inactivity, pursuant to Trial
Rule 41(E). The court denied the motions.
On May 12, 2016, the court set discovery deadlines. On May
13, 2016, McKinley served a request for admissions on Skyllas
through Vazanellis. The request for admissions included
potentially dispositive admissions, such as "Skyllas has
no evidence that McKinley was negligent in any way" and
"Skyllas did not suffer any injuries or damages as a
result of the incident." Appellants' App. p. 47.
Skyllas' response to the request for admissions was due
within thirty days. Meanwhile, Snow Pros served
interrogatories on Skyllas through Vazanellis.
Vazanellis continued to avoid communicating with Skyllas.
From April through August 2016, Skyllas called his office a
total of fifteen to twenty times and called his personal
number weekly, and he never responded. Vazanellis also
ignored her biweekly texts. In late May or early June 2016,
Skyllas met with Vazanellis' wife at his office to
prepare answers to Snow Pros' interrogatories. Vazanellis
talked with Skyllas but did not mention the request for
admissions. He told her that "he had filed everything
that needed to be filed, " and everything was
"under control." Id. at 65.
On June 27, 2016, the trial court set a deadline for
dispositive motions. McKinley timely filed a motion for
summary judgment against Skyllas, attaching Skyllas'
admissions. She did not respond within the thirty-day