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Cardinal Health Ventures, Inc. v. Scanameo

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 4, 2017

Cardinal Health Ventures, Inc., Appellant-Defendant,
v.
Michael Scanameo, M.D., Carol Scanameo, and Michael Scanameo, M.D., Inc., Appellees-Plaintiffs.

         Interlocutory Appeal from the Delaware Circuit Court Trial Court Cause No. 18C04-1308-CT-16 The Honorable John M. Feick, Judge

          Attorney for Appellant Kevin M. Quinn Bose McKinney & Evans LLP Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellees Donald K. McClellan McClellan & McClellan Muncie, Indiana Peter H. Drumm Benadum, Cecil & Drumm Muncie, Indiana

          Bradford, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] On August 5, 2013, Appellees-Plaintiffs Michael Scanameo, M.D., Carol Scanameo, Michael Scanameo, M.D., Inc. (collectively, "the Scanameos"), filed suit against Appellant-Defendant Cardinal Health Ventures, Inc. ("Cardinal Health"), alleging that Cardinal Health committed securities fraud. Specifically, the Scanameos alleged that Cardinal Health sold shares in two medical clinics to the Scanameos knowing that the shares were "worthless." In suing Cardinal Health, the Scanameos sought to recover the sum paid for the shares plus interest and reasonable attorney's fees. Also on August 5, 2013, the Scanameos made a timely request for a jury trial. The Scanameos later filed a motion asking the trial court to strike their request for a jury trial. Cardinal Health did not consent to the Scanameos' request. This interlocutory appeal follows the issuance of the trial court's order granting the Scanameos' motion. Concluding that the trial court erred in granting the Scanameos' motion, we reverse and remand the matter to the trial court with the instruction that the case be re-set on the jury trial calendar.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] According to the factual allegations levied by the Scanameos, in September of 2007 and on June 30, 2008, Cardinal Health sold shares of two medical clinics to the Scanameos for the collective sum of $542, 453.88. On August 5, 2013, the Scanameos filed suit against Cardinal Health alleging that Cardinal Health committed securities fraud. Specifically, the Scanameos alleged that Cardinal Health sold shares in two medical clinics to the Scanameos, knowing that the shares were "worthless." Appellant's App. Vol. II, p. 17. In suing Cardinal Health, the Scanameos sought to recover the sum paid for the shares plus interest and reasonable attorney's fees. Also on August 5, 2013, the Scanameos made a timely request for a jury trial. The Scanameos filed an amended complaint on November 12, 2013. The amended complaint did not include any substantive changes.

         [¶3] On August 31, 2016, the Scanameos filed a motion to strike their request for a jury trial. Cardinal Health filed a response in opposition to the Scanameos' motion on September 14, 2016. At the conclusion of a September 22, 2016 hearing on the motion, the trial court took the matter under advisement. On February 1, 2017, the trial court issued an order granting the Scanameos' motion. This interlocutory appeal follows.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶4] Cardinal Health contends on appeal that the trial court erred in granting the Scanameos' motion to strike their prior request for a jury trial. We agree.

         I. The Right to Trial By Jury

         [¶5] Section 20 of Article I of the Indiana Constitution provides that "[i]n all civil cases, the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate." However, "[t]he right to a jury trial in civil cases is guaranteed only in those actions which were triable by jury at common law prior to June 18, 1852." Midwest Fertilizer Co. v. Ag-Chem Equip. Co., 510 N.E.2d 232, 233 (Ind.Ct.App. 1987) (citing Ind. Tr. Rules 38(A); Estate of Ballard v. Ballard, 434 N.E.2d 136, 140 (Ind.Ct.App. 1982)). Claims which historically arose in equity "are to be tried to the court." Id. (citing Lewandowski v. Beverly, 420 N.E.2d 1278, 1282 (Ind.Ct.App. 1981)). Thus, "the key determination to be made is whether the claim involved is legal or equitable in character." Id. (citing Ballard, 434 N.E.2d at 140; Winney v. Bd. of Comm'rs of Vigo Cty., 174 Ind.App. 624, 369 N.E.2d 661, 664 (1977)).

         [¶6] "Indiana recognizes that '[t]he character of an action is determined by its substance, not its caption or formal denomination.'" Id. (quoting English Coal Co. v. Durcholz, 422 N.E.2d 302, 308 (Ind.Ct.App. 1981)). In determining whether a claim is legal or equitable in nature, "we must examine the totality of the pleadings and relief sought." Id. (citing Hiatt ...


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