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Meranda v. Spaw

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 26, 2019

Thomas Meranda, Appellant-Petitioner,
Mary Elizabeth Spaw, Appellee-Respondent.

          Appeal from the Boone Superior Court, The Honorable Matthew C. Kincaid, Judge, Trial Court Cause No. 06D01-1109-GU-38

          Attorney for Appellant Andrew Ault Indianapolis, Indiana.

          RILEY, JUDGE.


         [¶1] Appellant-Petitioner, Thomas Meranda (Meranda), appeals the trial court's Order denying his petition to terminate the guardianship of Gwendolyn M. Reagan (Reagan).

         [¶2] We reverse and remand.


         [¶3] Meranda presents two issues on appeal, which we consolidate and restate as: Whether the trial court erred when it concluded that the issues raised in Meranda's petition had already been decided and are no longer available for review.


         [¶4] Meranda is the spouse of the protected person, Reagan, who was born on March 26, 1940. They were married on November 25, 2000 and continue to be married to this date. As early as 2004, Reagan began suffering from symptoms which, in 2008, led to an Alzheimer's diagnosis. On December 13, 2011, the trial court appointed Leslie Rodeman (Rodeman), Reagan's brother, as the guardian of her person and estate. Rodeman filed a guardianship inventory on September 23, 2013. That same day, Rodeman also requested permission to repair Reagan's property, which was granted by the trial court. Rodeman resigned as guardian on September 16, 2014, at which time he also filed an amended inventory and guardian's current report and accounting. The amended inventory was not served on any individual, while the guardian's report was only served on Reagan. The following day, September 17, 2014, the trial court approved the report and accounting without a notice or hearing.

         [¶5] On September 17, 2014, Appellee-Respondent, Mary Elizabeth Spaw (Spaw), Reagan's daughter, was appointed as successor guardian.[1] On November 25, 2014, Spaw filed her verified guardian's second current report and accounting, with certificate of service to Reagan only. After the appointment of the new guardian, Reagan moved from her home in Lebanon to Spaw's home in Kendallville where she resided from November 2014 until March 2015. In March 2015, Reagan moved in with Meranda in his residence in Lebanon as he retired from his employment and was able to care for her on a daily basis. At that time, Reagan's monthly allowance was increased to allow for eating out and hairdresser appointments, while Meranda was reimbursed for medical expenses he paid on behalf of Reagan after providing the receipts to Spaw. On September 16, 2016, Spaw filed her verified guardian's second amended inventory, with notice to Reagan. Three days later, the trial court approved the filing without a notice or hearing.

         [¶6] On June 8, 2017, Spaw filed a petition for authority to clean-up and sell Reagan's real estate that had been the subject of Rodeman's petition to repair. In her petition, Spaw noted that the property had been empty for years and had deteriorated as a result. The trial court granted the petition without notice, hearing, or service of the order.

         [¶7] On June 21, 2018, Meranda filed a pro se letter with the trial court advising the court that because Spaw had not been paying Reagan's medical bills, he had been forced to pay them and was falling in debt. Meranda requested that Spaw find Reagan another place to live due to the possibility of Meranda's mortgage being foreclosed. A month later, on July 18, 2018, Spaw submitted a status report to the trial court, advising the court "that the medical bills are being paid by the Guardian herein." (Appellant's App. Vol. II, p. 82). No copy was served on Reagan or Meranda. Spaw also filed her third report and accounting, which was approved by the trial court without notice or hearing.

         [¶8] On February 11, 2019, Meranda, represented by counsel, filed an emergency petition for termination of the guardianship and for succession of guardianship. In his petition, Meranda asserted that Spaw had mismanaged Reagan's estate and failed to provide for Reagan's physical and mental needs. In addition, he claimed to have incurred more than $40, 000 of unreimbursed medical and personal expenses in his care for Reagan. On February 13, 2019, Spaw filed her response to Meranda's emergency petition contending that the accountings "were approved [by the court] and none of ...

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