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Poiry v. City of New Haven

Court of Appeals of Indiana

November 8, 2018

Stephan M. Poiry, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
City of New Haven, Indiana, Appellee-Defendant.

          Appeal from the Allen Superior Court The Honorable Craig J. Bobay, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 02D02-1711-MI-1046

          Attorneys for Appellant David W. Stone IV Stone Law Office & Legal Research Anderson, Indiana, Loren K. Allison Fort Wayne, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Ann M. Trzynka Andrew P. Simmons Van Gilder & Trzynka, P.C. Fort Wayne, Indiana

          KIRSCH, JUDGE.

         [¶1] Stephan M. Poiry ("Poiry") appeals the trial court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the City of New Haven, Indiana ("the City") and the denial of his motion to correct error. Poiry raises the following issue for our review: whether the trial court erred when it granted summary judgment to the City and denied his motion to correct error because Poiry failed to file a bond simultaneously with his verified petition for judicial review of the City of New Haven Police Department's Merit Board decision.

         [¶2] We reverse and remand with instructions.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] Poiry was and currently is a police officer employed with the City of New Haven Police Department. On August 7, 2017, the Chief of Police for the City filed disciplinary charges against Poiry. Appellant's App. Vol. II at 35-36. On September 26, 2017, the New Haven Police Department Merit Board ("the Board") conducted a hearing on the disciplinary charges. The parties attended the hearing with their attorneys, testimony was heard, and exhibits introduced. On September 28, 2017, the Board issued its ruling, in which it found that the disciplinary charges had been proven and that Poiry should be demoted in rank. Id. at 44-46. Poiry filed an appeal with the Board on September 28, 2017, which the Board denied on October 27, 2017. Id. at 55.

         [¶4] On November 16, 2017, Poiry filed a complaint against the City seeking judicial review of the Board's decision. Poiry did not post a bond at the time he filed his complaint. Poiry knew that the statute for appeals from municipal merit boards applied and was "fully aware that a bond was required as part of [the] filing for this judicial review." Id. at. 110, 145. At the time that the complaint was filed, Poiry inquired with employees of the Allen County Clerk's Office ("Clerk's Office") about posting a bond and was told that the Clerk's Office would not accept a bond without a judge setting the amount. Id. at 110, 146.

         [¶5] After Poiry filed his complaint, he did not file anything with the trial court to attempt to set a bond amount. On January 11, 2018, Poiry filed a motion for summary judgment against the City, alleging that the City failed to file a transcript pursuant to Indiana Code section 36-8-3.5-18(b)(5). On January 29, 2018, the City filed a motion to dismiss based on Poiry's failure to post a bond pursuant to Indiana Code section 36-8-3.5-18(b)(4). A case management conference was held on the same day, and after the conference, Poiry went to the Clerk's Office, where he spoke to a deputy clerk about posting a bond and was told the court had to determine the bond amount. Id. at 115. The deputy clerk then allowed Poiry to post whatever amount Poiry "wished," and Poiry paid the sum of $100. Id. at 116-17.

         [¶6] On March 8, 2018, the trial court heard oral arguments on both motions filed by the parties. Because matters outside the pleadings were presented in the City's motion to dismiss, the trial court treated the motion as a motion for summary judgment. Id. at 11. On April 5, 2018, the trial court issued its order granting summary judgment in favor of the City. Id. at 8-16. Poiry filed a motion to correct error on April 20, 2018. The trial court denied Poiry's motion on May 23, 2018. Poiry now appeals.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶7] Poiry is appealing after a denial of a motion to correct error. Generally, a trial court's ruling on a motion to correct error is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. Ind. Bureau of Motor Vehicles v. Watson, 70 N.E.3d 380, 384 (Ind.Ct.App. 2017). An abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court's decision is against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances before the court or if the court has misinterpreted the law. Id. However, where the issues raised in the motion are questions of law, the standard of review is de novo. City of Indianapolis v. Hicks, 932 N.E.2d 227, 230 (Ind.Ct.App. 2010), trans. denied. Here, Poiry's motion to correct error raised questions regarding the trial court's interpretation of a statute. Because the interpretation of a statute presents questions of law, our standard of review is de novo. Watson, 70 N.E.3d at 384.

         [¶8] Poiry's motion to correct error alleged that the trial court had erred when it granted summary judgment in favor of the City. When reviewing the grant of summary judgment, our standard of review is the same as that of the trial court. Webb v. City of Carmel, 101 N.E.3d 850, 860 (Ind.Ct.App. 2018) (citing FLM, LLC v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 973 N.E.2d 1167, 1173 (Ind.Ct.App. 2012), trans. denied). We stand in the shoes of the trial court and apply a de novo standard of review. Id. Our review of a summary judgment motion is limited to those materials designated to the trial court. Ind. Trial Rule 56(H); Robson v. Tex. E. Corp., 833 N.E.2d 461, 466 (Ind.Ct.App. 2005), trans. denied. Summary judgment is appropriate only where the designated evidence shows there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. T.R. 56(C). We view the pleadings and designated materials in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Webb, 101 N.E.3d at 860. Additionally, all facts and reasonable inferences from those facts are construed in favor of the non-moving party. Id. (citing FLM, 973 N.E.2d at 1173). ...


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