Brian K. Wynne, Appellant-Plaintiff,
Tyson Burris and Brian K. Alsip, Appellees-Defendants
from the Johnson Superior Court The Honorable Kevin Barton,
Judge Trial Court Cause No. 41D01-1702-SC-741
APPELLANT PRO SE Brian K. Wynne Michigan City, Indiana
Brian K. Wynne filed a small claims action against Tyson
Burris and Burris's attorney, Brian K. Alsip. The trial
court found in favor of Burris and Alsip and determined that
Wynne's claims were brought in bad faith. Accordingly,
the trial court assessed attorney fees against Wynne. Wynne
now appeals pro se raising the following issues:
1. Did the trial court abuse its discretion by admitting into
evidence recorded jail telephone calls between Wynne and his
girlfriend, Barbara Mooney?
2. Does the evidence support the trial court's conclusion
that Wynne had given Mooney actual authority to act as his
agent regarding the settlement with Burris?
3. Should Alsip have been permitted to represent himself in
4. Did the trial court err by rejecting Wynne's
negligence claim against Alsip?
& Procedural History
On January 28, 2015, Wynne began work on a home improvement
project at Burris's home, which included the removal of
flooring, demolition of a wall, and installation of new
flooring. Wynne did not provide Burris with a written
agreement or set a price but stated that the labor cost would
not exceed $2500. Wynne worked over the next several days,
appearing progressively later each day. Burris felt that the
project was taking too long, and Burris started to notice
"red flags." Transcript at 54.
During the project, Wynne unexpectedly brought a set of
kitchen appliances to Burris's home to sell to him and
his wife. Burris began to suspect that the appliances had
been stolen and decided to contact local authorities. He
learned that Wynne was a suspect in a recent burglary. Burris
provided a detailed statement to the Johnson County
Sheriff's Office. Thereafter, on February 3, 2015, Wynne
was arrested for burglary while working at Burris's home.
As a result of his arrest, Wynne did not finish the project.
Burris eventually hired others to complete the work.
Wynne bonded out of jail and then tried to contact Burris
regarding the project. Burris refused his calls but
communicated with Wynne via text. They discussed a payoff
amount, and Burris directed Wynne to contact Alsip,
Burris's attorney, to complete the settlement. Burris
provided Alsip with a cashier's check made out to Wynne.
Alsip and Wynne arranged to meet at Alsip's office, and
Wynne understood that he would need to sign a release in
order to receive the check. This scheduled meeting, however,
did not occur because Wynne was arrested on a warrant that
While in jail, Wynne made phone calls to Mooney, his longtime
girlfriend. Wynne indicated on a number of occasions that he
wanted Mooney to pick up the check, as well as handle other
matters for him. In one phone call, Wynne reminded Mooney
that she had his power of attorney (POA), and he referenced
the POA in another recorded call. With respect to the check
from Burris, Wynne directed Mooney as follows:
If you get a check from [Burris] all you do is sign my name
on the back of it, take it to the ATM machine and deposit it,
ok. That way you don't have to put your name on it, no
one's going to question it, it's gonna go straight in