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Estate of Mills-McGoffney v. Vigo County Prosecutor

Court of Appeals of Indiana

May 31, 2017

The Estate of Carrie Etta Mills-McGoffney, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
Vigo County Prosecutor, Terry Modesitt, Vigo County Adult Protective Services, Jerry Hawk, Angela Hall, and Margaret Ditteon d/b/a Personal Resource Management,

         Appeal from the Vigo Superior Court The Honorable Hugh R. Hunt, Special Judge Trial Court Cause No. 84D02-1411-MI-8697

          APPELLANT PRO SE Kelly McGoffney Terre Haute, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES Attorneys for Margaret Ditteon d/b/a Personal Resource Management: Mark D. Hassler Jacob H. Miller Hunt Hassler Kondras & Miller, LLP Terre Haute, Indiana

          Attorneys for State of Indiana: Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Andrea E. Rahman Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          RILEY, JUDGE.

         STATEMENT OF THE CASE

         [¶1] Appellants-Plaintiffs, the Estate of Carrie Etta Mills McGoffney (Estate) and Kelly McGoffney (McGoffney) as the Estate's personal representative, appeal the trial court's denial of a motion to reinstate their previously-dismissed case against Appellees-Defendants, Vigo County Prosecutor (Prosecutor), Vigo County Adult Protective Services (APS), and Margaret Ditteon d/b/a Personal Resource Management (Ditteon).

         [¶2] We affirm.

         ISSUES

         [¶3] McGoffney, on behalf of the Estate, raises five issues on appeal, one of which we find dispositive and which we restate as: Whether the trial court abused its discretion by denying McGoffney's Motion to Reinstate Original Proposed Complaint.

         [¶4] On cross-appeal, the Prosecutor, APS, and Ditteon raise one issue, which we restate as: Whether McGoffney's appeal (or parts thereof) should be dismissed due to her failure to timely file a Notice of Appeal.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         [¶5] On November 20, 2012, Carrie Etta Mills McGoffney (Carrie) passed away. On December 3, 2012, her daughter, McGoffney, was appointed personal representative of Carrie's Estate. Prior to her death, Carrie had been domiciled in and held property in Vigo County, Indiana.

         [¶6] On November 20, 2014, McGoffney, pro se, entered an appearance on behalf of the Estate and filed a Complaint for Damages against the Prosecutor, APS, and Ditteon/Personal Resource Management. In the Complaint, McGoffney alleged that, prior to Carrie's death, the Prosecutor and APS became involved in a dispute over the guardianship of Carrie, and Ditteon was subsequently appointed to assume the care of Carrie against the wishes of certain family members, including McGoffney. According to McGoffney, as a result of actions by the Prosecutor, APS, and Ditteon, she was prohibited from having any contact with Carrie and was denied information on her whereabouts, only learning about Carrie's death after the fact. McGoffney claimed that Ditteon had refused to seek necessary treatment for Carrie, which resulted in Carrie's death. Accordingly, McGoffney, on behalf of the Estate, requested "to be compensated for [Carrie's] injuries and death and damages from the aforementioned negligent acts to the extent permitted by law." (Appellants' App. Vol. II, p. 19).

         [¶7] On January 6, 2015, the trial court recused itself and on January 14, 2015, transferred the matter to the presiding judge for assignment of a special judge. On January 20, 2015, McGoffney requested that the presiding judge also recuse and assign the case to the same special judge who was handling several other matters concerning the Estate. Instead, on ...


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