George & Farinas is committed to fighting for the rights of not just our clients, but of all injured Indiana residents. To that end, attorney Todd Barnes recently volunteered his time and efforts to serve as amicus (friend of the court) in an appeal concerning the rights of Indiana residents to have their cases heard and decided by juries.
In Converse v. Elkhart Hospital, Ms. Converse was injured when she slipped an fell on loose rocks on the sidewalk outside of a facility owned by Elkhart Hospital. The parties disputed whether Elkhart Hospital owed any duty to Ms. Converse, and whether the rocks were an “open and obvious” hazard. Instead of letting a jury decide, the Judge in the case ruled as a matter of law that Ms. Converse should have been aware of the rocks, and granted judgment to Elkhart Hospital.
Ms. Converse appealed, arguing that juries, not judges, should make such decisions. The Indiana Trial Lawyers Association (“ITLA”), asked the Court of Appeals for permission to speak on behalf of injured Indiana residents who might have similar cases. Todd volunteered to represent ITLA, and wrote a “friend of the court” brief outlining the importance and history of Indiana’s right to have a jury decide such factual issues.
The Court of Appeals agreed with Ms. Converse and ITLA. Reversing the lower Court’s judgment, the Court of Appeals determined there were questions of fact that juries, not judges, must decide. This decision helped ensure that in the future, injured Indiana residents will have the right to have juries decide their cases, and that Judges should not be prematurely eliminating the right to trial.
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