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June 24, 2013

Court to recalculate Jeffersonville's attorney fees

EMC won lawsuit in 2008 after contract was terminated



Jeffersonville appealed the decision. 

The appeals court agreed that the city did not violate the Indiana Open Door Law as alleged in the suit as EMC waived its right to file a complaint because it was not done so in a timely manner. Because the open-door decision was reversed, the appeals court said the attorney fees should be recalculated and reflected in the judgment.

“We concluded that the trial court had abused its discretion and remanded to the trial court with instructions that the trial court modify its award of [attorney] fees and costs to EMC to include only the amount of [attorney] fees EMC incurred as a result of its contempt complaint and costs reflecting EMC’s losses for filing fees and statutory witness fees,” according to the appeals court ruling.

The trial court calculated attorney fees, with interest, and deducted the amount for EMC’s Open Door Law claims during the same period, resulting in a new total award of $269,004. 

But again, Jeffersonville challenged the ruling and argued that the trial court awarded attorney fees for legal services unrelated to the contempt claim. 

However, EMC argued that the contempt and the breach of contract claims were intertwined. 

Again, the trial court accepted the argument, while the appeals court did not.

“Although the attorney fees were incurred in preparation for and during the consolidated trial of the Open Door Law, breach of contract and contempt claims, we are not persuaded that the trial court correctly concluded that the trial of the breach of contract claim was substantially a result of Mayor Galligan’s contemptuous conduct,” according to the appeals court ruling. “As shown by the trial court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law, evidence pertaining to the contempt claim was distinguishable from evidence on the breach of contract claim.”

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