Douglas C. Holland, Appellant-Defendant,
Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, Appellee-Plaintiff
from the Dearborn Superior Court The Honorable Jonathan N.
Cleary, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 15D01-1709-PL-43
Appellant Pro Se Douglas C. Holland Lawrenceburg, Indiana
Attorney for Appellee Michelle A. Cobourn-Baurley
Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance (Farm Bureau) sued attorney
Douglas Holland to recover money owed to it from a
subrogation claim that arose from Holland's
representation of a woman (Client) who was injured in a
vehicle collision. Farm Bureau and Holland filed competing
motions for summary judgment on Farm Bureau's ability to
recover its money from Holland, rather than Client. The trial
court found in favor of Farm Bureau, and Holland now appeals.
Finding that the statute of limitations expired before Farm
Bureau filed its complaint, we reverse and remand.
On September 19, 2012, Client was injured in a vehicle
collision, after which Client retained Holland as her
attorney in her personal injury lawsuit against the
tortfeasor. On November 20, 2012, Farm Bureau, which insured
Client, paid $5, 000 toward Client's medical bills. In
December 2014, the personal injury lawsuit settled in
Client's favor and on December 22, 2014, Holland filed a
motion to dismiss it, which the trial court granted. Holland
requested Client to allow him to retain $3, 500 of her
settlement to cover any subrogation claims that Farm Bureau
might have for one year beginning on December 22, 2014.
Meanwhile, on August 28, 2014, Farm Bureau submitted a notice
of its lien rights to Holland. On September 4, 2014, Holland
acknowledged the lien in writing. On October 31, 2014,
Holland called Farm Bureau's counsel's office and
requested that Farm Bureau waive its subrogation claim.
Holland and Farm Bureau then unsuccessfully tried to
negotiate the subrogation amount. On June 9, 2015, Farm
Bureau asked that Holland request a damages hearing so that
the trial court presiding over Client's lawsuit against
the tortfeasor could determine the amount of the subrogation
claim. Holland stated that the lawsuit had been dismissed and
that Farm Bureau would have to file a small claim to
determine what amount, if any, Client owed it. This exchange
was apparently the last one between the parties for the
remainder of 2015. On December 29, 2015, Client asked Holland
to return to her the balance of the settlement; Holland
Then, on July 13, 2017, Farm Bureau made a formal demand for
payment of its subrogation claim. On September 14, 2017, Farm
Bureau filed a complaint against Holland for its subrogation
claim for $3, 333, alleging that Holland breached the
fiduciary duty he owed to Farm Bureau and that he breached
the constructive trust imposed on the money at issue. On
September 27, 2017, Holland filed his answer, alleging that
he had no legal authority to pay Farm Bureau without
Client's consent. That same day, he filed a motion for
summary judgment, arguing that the statute of limitations had
run and that he had no legal requirement to withhold
subrogation funds from Client's settlement.
On October 27, 2017, Farm Bureau filed its own motion for
summary judgment, arguing that it had a medical payments
lien, that Holland had a fiduciary duty to Farm Bureau, that
a constructive trust was created when Holland received funds
in which Farm Bureau had an interest, and that the applicable
statute of limitations is six years and had not yet run.
On January 18, 2018, a hearing on the motions for summary
judgment took place. Following the hearing, the trial court
granted Farm Bureau's motion for summary judgment and
motion to strike, ordering Holland to pay Farm Bureau $3,
333, and denied Holland's motion for summary judgment.
The trial court did not issue findings of fact or conclusions
of law. On February 13, 2018, Holland filed a motion to
correct error, arguing that the trial court erred by granting
Farm Bureau's motion for summary judgment. That same day,
he filed two more motions for summary judgment: one arguing
that there is no subject matter jurisdiction in this case
because Farm Bureau's claim is a contractual one and Farm
Bureau has not presented any legal theory of liability
against Holland; and one arguing that as an agent, he was not
liable to Farm Bureau. The trial court denied all three
post-judgment motions. Holland now appeals.
Holland raises three issues on appeal, one of which we find
dispositive: whether the trial court erred by granting Farm
Bureau's motion for summary judgment and by denying
Holland's motion for summary judgment.
Our standard of review on summary judgment ...