What's new - Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans
This "What's New" page is designed to highlight only recent activity by the firm and its lawyers. Material will remain posted for a few months and then be replaced with more current information. If you are looking for something and do not see it posted here or elsewhere on our site, give us a call. Chances are we can help you!
Hoeppner Wagner & Evans Named to "Best" Law Firm List for Eight Consecutive Years. Readers of Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly named Hoeppner Wagner & Evans the "Best Law Firm for Litigation" in the 2010 annual reader poll. NWIBQ readers have awarded the firm top honors in corporate and litigation law firm categories since the survey was started in 2003.
Looking for a speaker for your next company meeting or professional organization program? Contact Hoeppner Wagner & Evans! Our attorneys possess extensive speaking experience on topics of interest to a variety of businesses and organizations. Call us to learn more: (219) 464-4961.
Bill Satterlee was featured in the August 13-26 edition of The Indiana Lawyer for a jazz radio program he has been involved with for many years on Lakeshore Public Radio 89.1 FM. According to the article, “Each week longtime friends Bill Satterlee, managing partner at Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP in Valparaiso, and Kent Lindquist, senior judge for the Bankruptcy Court in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, share their mutual love of jazz by recording a two-hour show that airs Sunday nights on the local public radio station.”
Gerry Stout has received notice from the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency that he has been issued a Real Estate Instructor Permit. The permit is valid from August 22, 2014 through June 30, 2016, and allows Gerry to serve as a continuing education instructor for the real estate industry, including real estate agents, brokers, and assessors.
Congratulations to Larry Evans, who has again been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 21st Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the practice areas of Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Litigation - Construction, Litigation - Labor & Employment, and Litigation - Real Estate.
Congratulations to John Hughes, who has again been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 21st Edition of The Best Lawyers in America.
Todd Leeth recently obtained approval for a child care facility to be located in the Town of Chesterton. The approval required amendment to an old and outdated PUD design by creating a new ordinance and plat approved by the Plan Commission after a public hearing and adopted by the Town Council. Easements were also vacated by the Town Council through a separate process.
The HWE team of Joe Jaskowiak, Lauren Kroeger and Mike Meyer received a defense verdict in a complex, multi-claim and multi-party lawsuit filed by a former employer against ten individual defendants and their new employer. The former employer alleged breach of covenants not to compete, and confidentiality and non-solicitation clauses, trade secret violations, tortious interference with contract and business relations, unfair competition, unjust enrichment and defamation. Portions of the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed on summary judgment, with judgment entered for the new employer and individual defendants on the remainder of the claims following a two-and-a-half week jury trial in Porter County in March, 2014.
Joe Jaskowiak and Lauren Kroeger received summary judgment for a franchisor client in a dispute involving claims that the franchisor took money that belonged to Infinaquest under an alleged perfected security interest in a franchisee’s receivables. The federal court, in entering judgment for the franchisor, held that Infinquest’s interest in the franchisee’s receivables was subject to the franchisor’s contractual set-off rights under the franchise agreement. Plaintiff Infinaquest’s conversion claim failed because the franchisor did not exercise unauthorized control over the property of another. Here, the property (i.e. the money) belonged to the franchisor, which exercised control over it pursuant to its contractual set off rights. Similarly, Plaintiff’s tortious interference with contract claim failed because the franchisor was justified in keeping the franchisee’s receivable based on its contractual set off rights. Infinaquest, LLC v. DirectBuy, Inc., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61739 (N.D. Ind. May 5, 2014).
Joe Jaskowiak and Lauren Kroeger were successful in dismissing a case based on the doctrine of res judicata. The plaintiff Trust had previously filed a breach of contract claim against the defendant franchisor. In that case, the franchisor moved to dismiss the lawsuit arguing that the Trust lacked standing to file the lawsuit. The trial court denied the motion, but the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the Trust had no standing.
After the Court of Appeals’ decision in the first case, the Trust and its beneficiaries filed a second lawsuit against the franchisor, asserting the same breach of contract claim as in the first case. The franchisor moved to dismiss based on res judicata. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit, holding that the four factors required to satisfy res judicata had been satisfied: the former judgment was rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction; the former judgment was an adjudication on the merits under Trial Rule 41(B) (which provides that any dismissal, other than a dismissal for lack of jurisdiction, operates as an adjudication on the merits); and the trust beneficiaries are privies with the Trust.
The trial court also determined that the matter at issue in the second lawsuit was, or could have been, determined in the prior action. The court observed that the Trust beneficiaries could have, pursuant to Trial Rule 12(B) as a matter of right for ten days, joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs in order to determine whether the franchisor was liable for back rent. For whatever reason, the beneficiaries decided not to do so and never sought permission of the trial court to do so after the ten day period.. The trust beneficiaries were not permitted to do so in a second lawsuit, which encompasses essentially the same parties and subject matter and requests the same remedies.
Sean Kenyon and Mike Meyer recently secured summary judgment in federal court for their clients, a retail store, its owners, and its manager, in an employment discrimination case alleging discrimination under Title VII, the ADA, and claims under Indiana state law. The Plaintiff had been terminated for poor job performance. The Plaintiff filed for bankruptcy after her termination, and her debt was discharged through bankruptcy proceedings. Despite having multiple opportunities to disclose the potential employment claim as an asset in the bankruptcy, the Plaintiff failed to do so. Sean and Mike argued that because the Plaintiff failed to disclose the claim to the bankruptcy court she should be judicially estopped and precluded from bringing that claim separately for her own benefit. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana agreed and granted summary judgment for the defendants.
Bob Dignam successfully represented a healthcare provider charged with disability and sex (pregnancy) discrimination after it terminated an employee for violating the employer’s attendance policy. The Indiana Civil Rights Commission concluded that their was no probable cause to find any discrimination, and the evidence supported the employer’s non-discriminatory discharge decision.
Bob Dignam successfully represented a healthcare provider charged with age discrimination and disability discrimination after it terminated a healthcare employee for unacceptable performance. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Indianapolis concluded that the evidence did not support the charges of discrimination, and issued a determination dismissing the case.
John E. Hughes obtained dismissal with prejudice for an employer client of a twice amended complaint for alleged wrongful termination, disparagement and intentional interference with contract and business relations. The Court had dismissed the action for failure to state a claim for wrongful termination/breach of contract and ordered more specific statements of alleged wrongful conduct with respect to disparagement and intentional interference with contract and business relations. The Court found the Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint failed to cure the deficiencies and entered an Order of Dismissal with Prejudice.
Larry Evans and Kim Peil obtained summary judgment in an Indiana state court for the seller of a product that had been sued by an injured plaintiff under theories of negligence and products liability. Larry and Kim demonstrated to the court that after the product was sold to the initial user, it had been modified and was not installed in a foreseeable manner, which constituted a meritorious defense under Indiana law.
On June 9, Shelbie Byers and Kim Peil awarded three students scholarships from the Col. John Wheeler Middle School in Crown Point, Indiana in recognition of their Law Day essay contest submissions. Law Day was presented in conjunction with the Young Lawyers Section of the Lake County Bar Association, of which Shelbie and Kim are members. Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP sponsored the first place scholarship.
Bob Dignam and Kim Peil successfully guided an employer through an Armour-Globe election, conducted pursuant to a union’s petition to have certain non-union employees join the unionized workers in the employer’s existing bargaining unit. Bob and Kim also assisted the employer by responding to the union’s challenge of one voter’s ballot and securing a favorable ruling from the Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago, which was adopted by the full Board in Washington, D.C. As a result of the ruling, which overruled the union’s challenge, the employer prevailed in the election.
Jim Jorgensen spoke at the Wednesday, June 4th Portage Chamber of Commerce Rise and Shine series. The topic presented, “Hiring Do’s and Don’ts” was well received by the Chamber members and their guests. Jim is resident in our Valparaiso office and practices among other areas of law, employment law.
Bob Dignam and Doug Walker successfully defended an Indiana business by obtaining a favorable ruling on claims of race discrimination, sex discrimination, and retaliation filed before the City of South Bend Human Rights Commission. The Commission concluded that there was no probable cause to believe that discrimination or retaliation occurred in violation of the municipality’s applicable ordinance. As a result, the Commission found that the business acted lawfully in discharging an employee for performance deficiencies.
On May 23, 2014, Shelbie J. Byers, at the request of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, spoke at a Continuing Legal Education seminar. Her presentation was titled, Title VII: Bankruptcy, Credit, Corporations. The seminar was attended by attorneys and members of the public at Purdue University Calumet. The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces Indiana Civil Rights Laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana.
Mike Meyer authored an article in the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana’s annual Indiana Civil Litigation Review in 2013. The article, titled By Word Or By Deed: An Analysis Of A Construction Manager’s Contractual And Assumed Duties To Workers Following Hunt Construction Group, Inc. v. Garrett, discusses a 2012 Indiana Supreme Court case originating from an injury to a worker during the construction of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The full text of the article can be viewed by clicking here.
On April 24, Partner, Rich Davis, was part of the faculty at a seminar approved by the State of Indiana for continuing legal education credit. The seminar was held at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville and was intended for experienced civil litigators. Rich has been trying cases for 34 years and has tried well over 100 jury trials. His presentations included “Opening Statement – Setting the Stage for a Successful Verdict” and “Comprehensive Cross-Examination.” Rich will also be teaching at a litigation seminar in October where he will address Jury Selection techniques.
Keith Wolak achieved a successful defense of a decedent’s probate estate at the Internal Revenue Service’s Appeals Division. The IRS sought to assess the decedent’s probate estate approximately $300,000 in Trust Fund Recovery penalties because a company the decedent inherited owed significant employment taxes. The IRS Appeals Division ultimately agreed that the decedent was not a “responsible party” and the estate was not liable for the penalty.
Shelbie J. Byers was elected Vice President of the Women Lawyers Association during their April 2014 meeting. She will serve in this office until April 2015. Shelbie has served as the Chair of the Miss Representation program sponsored by the Women Lawyers Association, and is currently serving as the Chair of the Indiana Court of Appeals on Wheels program and reception being hosted by the Women Lawyers Association on April 30, 2014. The mission of the Women Lawyers Association is to promote the advancement and success of women in the legal profession. Its membership includes judges, lawyers, and law students. The organization promotes civility and collegiality; encouraging interested and qualified women to ascend to the bench.
Gerry Stout presented at seminar in South Bend, for local attorneys, CPA’s, tax representatives, and assessors concerning Property Tax in Indiana. Gerry spoke on topics related to real property tax exemptions, deductions, tax caps and tax sales.
John Hughes has been selected for inclusion on the list of 2014 Indiana Super Lawyers in the category of plaintiff’s personal injury. This honor, which recognizes lawyers who have distinguished themselves in their legal practice, is bestowed upon only 5% of the lawyers in the state.
Congratulations to Michael Tolbert on being elected to the office of President of the Lake County Bar Association for the year 2014. Michael was sworn into office on January 10 by Indiana Supreme Court Justice Robert Rucker. The firm is particularly proud that Michael becomes the first African-American to serve as the association’s president.
On January 23, Kim Peil and Mike Meyer, in conjunction with the Construction Advancement Foundation (“CAF”), presented a seminar on Recent Developments in Employment Discrimination Law and Contract Law for the Construction Industry. Management and human resources professionals from local construction companies and labor organizations were in attendance. The seminar was part of a series of seminars on various legal topics being presented in 2013 and 2014 by Hoeppner Wagner & Evans, LLP, at the request of CAF.
On January 20, Gerry Stout was elected President of the Lowell Public Library Board of Trustees.
On January 11, Mike Meyer co-taught a module of the Associated General Contractors of America’s Supervisory Training Program, organized by the Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable and held at the Construction Advancement Foundation in Portage. This is the sixth time Mike has taught a module of the program, which is designed to train construction industry employees on a wide variety of topics necessary for advancement into supervisory positions. The most recent module focused on The Supervisor’s Role, and included sessions risk management, planning, and construction contracts.
Mike Meyer has agreed to served as Vice-Chair of the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana’s Construction Law Section for 2014 and 2015. The DTCI Construction Law Section is comprised of members of the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana who practice in all areas of the law related to the construction industry. The section disseminates information related to construction law and provides education opportunities to its members.
John Hughes has prevailed in behalf of his clients in securing an order from the Porter Superior Court limiting the scope of issues to be determined by a panel of arbitrators in a case related to the breakup of real estate partnerships. The Arbitrators sought clarification from the court regarding the issues to be arbitrated, and the court rejected the opposing parties’ attempt to inject additional issues into the arbitration. The ruling will allow for a much more focused presentation to the Arbitrators to conclude the litigation.
Gerry Stout presented at a continuing legal education seminar for local attorneys. The title of the seminar was LLCs: From Formation to Special Uses. Gerry spoke on the topic of special uses for LLCs.
Bob Dignam, at the request of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, presented a continuing legal education seminar to Indiana attorneys who are members of the Alan County Bar Association. Bob’s presentation was entitled, How to Stay Out of Hot Water - And What Happens When You Don’t. The presentation was delivered in Fort Wayne at the bar association’s offices. The program assisted attorneys in understanding the benefit of counseling their employer clients about the importance of accurate evaluations of the workforce, the importance of timely progressive discipline, and the potential legal ramifications of failing to so act. Bob also included an update on noteworthy employment law decisions during 2013. Bob represents organizations in employment law and labor law matters, conducts collective bargaining, serves as a medical review panel chairman, and is a registered civil mediator. In addition, Bob serves as an adjunct professor at Purdue University Calumet, where he teaches courses in Personnel Law, Human Resources Management, and Conflict Management in the school’s Organizational Leadership and Supervision program.
Doug Walker successfully defended a realtor appearing in front of the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of REALTORS® Professional Standards Committee who had been accused of ethical misconduct. The hearing panel found that the realtor had committed no ethical violations.
Doug Walker participated as a volunteer judge for the Indiana WE THE PEOPLE District I Middle School Hearings that took place at Indiana University Northwest. The students were well prepared and learned a great deal about the law and the Constitution of the United States of America.
Mike Meyer successfully represented an Illinois employer which was sued Indiana when its employee, an Indiana resident, was injured in Indiana while driving a company vehicle, allegedly in the course and scope of employment. The employee sought worker’s compensation benefits in Illinois, but also filed suit in Indiana seeking damages through the employer’s automobile insurer. As a result of Mike’s representation, the court determined that the exclusive remedy provision of the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act precluded the Indiana litigation, and judgment was entered for the employer.
Todd Leeth represented a development group that obtained primary plat approval for a 434 lot residential subdivision south of Valparaiso in unincorporated Porter County. The subdivision development incorporates green building initiatives and alternative site development techniques. Hoeppner Wagner & Evans worked with civil engineers, land planners and other consultants to defuse initial objections by neighbors, staff and commissioners ultimately receiving a 7-0 unanimous approval from the Porter County Plan Commission.
Bob Dignam successfully represented a Lake County factory which was penalized by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) for not reporting a work-related fatality within the prescribed period. Following a conference with IOSHA, the penalty was reduced to zero.
An article authored by Mike Meyer will appear in the upcoming edition of the Indiana Civil Ligation Review. The article, titled “By Word or By Deed: An Analysis of A Construction Manager’s Contractual And Assumed Duties To Workers Following Hunt Construction Group, Inc. v. Garrett”, will appear in the 2013 edition of the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana’s annual publication.
The Construction Advancement Foundation, Hoeppner Wagner & Evans, and the Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable presented a Taxes & Mechanics's Lien Program on November 21, 2013.
Larry Evans successfully completed the Chicago Marathon on Sunday October 13. This was Larry’s tenth Chicago Marathon. Larry has now successfully completed a total of fifteen marathons! WOW!!
Chip Owens was recently accepted into the Leadership Academy of the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce. The Leadership Academy is a four-month community leadership program that prepares, challenges, and engages emerging and existing leaders to strengthen the community. Selected participants are exposed to the larger community, exploring the public/city government sector, private business sectors, and not-for-profit organizations that play a role in building a strong community. This year, the candidates are able to conduct sessions at several businesses throughout the community, with the capstone session occurring on November 5, 2013 at the Valparaiso Chamber’s office.
Bob Dignam, Mike Meyer, and Michael Tolbert successfully represented their respective clients, which included the former Lake County Sheriff and Warden, the Lake County Board of Commissioners, the City of Gary, its former Mayor and Chief of Police, and two police officers before the Seventh Circuit United States Court of Appeals. The appellate court affirmed a favorable district court ruling for all defendants in response to the plaintiff’s myriad allegations of misconduct and constitutional violations in connection with an arrest and pretrial detention.
Doug Walker presented at the Trial Preparation from Start to Finish continuing education seminar presented by the Institute for Paralegal Education. His topics included “Creating a Trial Notebook” and “Effective Use of Evidence.” The program focused on sharpening trial preparation skills ranging from creating a trial notebook to succeeding at trial.
Terri Bugajski participated in the Second Annual Purdue Boilermaker Half Marathon/5K run on October 19, with two of her children. All finished their respective races, a bit wet and very, very cold. Terri and her friends and family look forward to competing again next year. GO PURDUE (and all of our fine Indiana schools) !!!
Chip Owens was recently nominated and voted to serve on the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Chip will serve a two year term on the Board beginning on January 1, 2014. Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans, LLP and its attorneys have a long tradition of membership and service to the Portage Chamber of Commerce. “The firm is excited to continue its support and is honored one of its attorneys was nominated to the Board of Directors,” said William F. Satterlee III, Managing Partner of Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP.
Mike Meyer, Shelbie Byers, and Chip Owens graciously accepted the nomination of serving on the inaugural Northwest Indiana Alumni Council for Valparaiso School of Law. The first meeting open to all alumni in Northwest Indiana occurred at Asparagus Restaurant in Merrillville and permitted 50+ alums to network, socialize, and re-connect with the law school. The council is currently planning a winter event in Porter County and will provide details at a later time.
On September 12, 2103, Mike Meyer spoke to a pre-trial skills class of second year students at Valparaiso University School of Law on the topic of depositions. Mike was invited to speak to the students about his experience as an attorney and to share his knowledge with respect to preparing for, taking and defending depositions.
Bob Dignam successfully represented a healthcare provider charged with national origin discrimination and retaliation after it terminated an employee form a managerial position for unacceptable performance. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Indianapolis concluded that the evidence did not support the charges of national origin discrimination or retaliation, and issued a determination dismissing the case.
Bob Dignam gave a presentation for 45 directors, managers and supervisors of a healthcare organization concerning proper employee appraisals and the timely administration of progressive discipline.
Shelbie Byers participated as a volunteer at the Judge Lorenzo Arredondo Justice Center during a mock trial in which a third grade class presented the case of “Mary’s Missing Lunch”. The Justice Center hosts students for a day of cooperative civic activities throughout the school year. After the mock trial, Shelbie spoke to the students about the importance of setting goals and staying in school.
Shelbie Byers was recently elected to serve a one-year term as the Committee Chairwoman of the Membership Committee in the Urban League of Northwest Indiana Inc., Young Professionals group. The group serves Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties in the areas of education, health, economic and social empowerment.
Shelbie Byers volunteered with the Young Leaders United at the Lakeshore PAWS animal shelter as part of the United Way of Porter County’s annual Day of Caring. The volunteer group cared for, walked, and played with animals looking for forever homes. The Lakeshore PAWS staff was grateful to have the volunteer assistance.
Congratulations to Larry Evans, who has again been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 20th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the practice areas of Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Litigation - Construction, Litigation - Labor & Employment, and Litigation - Real Estate.
Congratulations to John Hughes, who has again been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 20th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the practice area of Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants. John has been named the Best Lawyers' 2014 South Bend Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants "Lawyer of the Year".
On August 2, 2013, Larry Evans was one of the presenters at an Equal Employment Law Update sponsored by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission at Indiana University Northwest, in Gary. Larry discussed the recent United States Supreme Court cases of Vance v. Ball State, which addressed the definition of a supervisor in the workplace and explained that a supervisor means only those with the ability to hire and fire; and University of Texas Southwest Medical Center v. Nassar, in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that Title VII retaliation claims must be proved according to a traditional “but-for causation” analysis, which requires proof that the alleged adverse employment action would not have occurred in the absence of wrongful conduct by the employer. Larry also discussed the case of Hitchcock v. Angel Corps., Inc., in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently commented that “a more straightforward analysis of whether a reasonable jury could infer prohibited discrimination” should be implemented in Title VII cases, instead of the traditional McDonnell Douglas analysis, which it deemed “worn-out.” Jamie Kauther and Shelbie Byers also assisted in permitting Larry to make this informative educational presentation.
On August 8, 2013, Bob Dignam attended the unveiling of the Franciscan St. Anthony Health - Crown Point Capital Campaign Recognition Wall. Bob was in attendance at the invitation of Franciscan Alliance Foundation, as Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans contributed to the Capital Campaign, which thus far has allowed Franciscan Alliance to open a medical clinic for members of the Crown Point community whose financial circumstances warrant assistance, a neonatal intensive care unit at Franciscan St. Anthony Health - Crown Point, a cancer center in Michigan City and a family medicine clinic in Cedar Lake.
Gerry Stout successfully represented a client in connection with the issuance of tax deeds on seven parcels of Porter County real estate. Normally, a property owner is required to pay a redemption amount plus costs and expenses in order to defeat a tax deed. With Gerry’s assistance, it was determined that the real property should never have been on the tax sale rolls, so the costs were borne by the County Auditor and not the property owner.
Bob Dignam has completed the week-long Civil Mediation Training course sanctioned by the Indiana Supreme Court and the Indiana Commission for Continuing Legal Education, so in addition to his other professional activities, Bob will now be a registered civil mediator in the State of Indiana.
Gerry Stout successfully represented a property owners association in its appeal of an assessment of common area real estate. Through Gerry’s representation, it was determined that the common area in question had a property value of zero for tax assessment purposes. As a result, the client realized a significant property tax savings.
Rich Davis defended an insurance carrier in an uninsured motorist suit by the insured. The insured ’s demand throughout the proceedings had been for the policy limit, and the same demand was presented to the jury. The insured was driving his motorcycle when an uninsured driver allegedly cut off a third driver who nearly hit the insured. The uninsured driver did not appear at trial but had told the police officer that the insured yelled at her and when she followed the insured, he suddenly braked and she hit him. The insured told the jury that he calmly pointed out the deficiencies of her driving and she responded by getting out of her car, punching him and then following him into a parking lot and hitting him as he parked his motorcycle. The insured’s property damage and medical bills were all paid before trial and the insurer remained willing to pay a reasonable sum for pain and suffering. When the insured rejected the offer and insisted on a jury trial, Rich persuaded the jury to award only one tenth of policy limit to the insured.
Rich Davis represented a man, on a pro bono basis, whose former significant other attempted to take his dog. The couple, while living together, obtained a dog from a pound. The man owned the house where they lived, paid all the bills, and had the dog put in his name by the shelter when they picked it out. When the woman moved out and, she took possession of the dog, pursuant to a “visitation” schedule the parties worked out, and refused to return it. The man sought help from the police, but was told it was a civil matter. When he filed a complaint in small claims court, the woman went to the shelter, without the man’s knowledge, and changed the paperwork to reflect that she was the person who adopted the dog. Rich conducted the trial in behalf of the man whose dog had been taken, and the woman was represented by her own counsel. The woman testified that the dog was a combined Valentine’s Day and Birthday gift to her. If true, that would have made the dog hers. The man testified to the contrary, and the judge agreed with him, ordering that the dog be permanently returned to the man within ten days or the woman would be held in contempt of court.
On July 26, Gerry Stout presented at the 3rd Annual Civil and Criminal Bench and Bar Conference at Valparaiso University School of law. Gerry’s presentation, in the area of estate planning, was entitled, Life After the Death of the Death Tax.
On July 17, Larry Evans, at the request of Rockwell Automation, the world’s largest company dedicated to industrial automation, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, presented at the 2013 Industrial Safety Seminar in Kokomo, Indiana. Larry spoke on the topic, Legal Considerations for Safety. Kim Peil assisted in the preparation of seminar materials, and also attended and participated in the presentation.
Bob Dignam gave a presentation for 20 directors, managers and supervisors of a public media organization concerning proper employee appraisals and the timely administration of progressive discipline.
Bob Dignam, at the request of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, presented a continuing legal education seminar to approximately 100 Indiana attorneys. Bob’s presentation was entitled, Sexual Harassment - A Historical Perspective. The presentation was delivered at Purdue University Calumet where Bob has served as an adjunct professor since 2002, teaching courses in Personnel Law, Human Resources Management, and Conflict Management to students in the university’s Organizational Leadership and Supervision program.
Sean Kenyon was awarded the honor of Infuential Woman in the Law category at the Influential Women of Northwest Indiana Awards Banquet on May 23. Sean was chosen among 3 finalists in her category. Influential Women of NWI recognizes women "who are established in their industry..." Influential Women of NWI also donates to area nonprofits who "have demonstrated a commitment to enriching Northwest Indiana." For more information, visit www.nwiwomen.com. “I am very appreciative of the firm’s support, as the award is really a reflection of Hoeppner Wagner & Evans’ commitment to the legal profession and the larger Northwest Indiana community.” Commented Sean Kenyon.
Bob Dignam successfully represented a healthcare provider charged with gender discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, race discrimination, age discrimination and disability discrimination. The healthcare provider terminated the employment of its nurse employee as a result of poor conduct toward patients and their family members, and unsatisfactory performance of her duties. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Chicago concluded that the evidence did not support the charges of discrimination, and dismissed the case.
On May 11 and 18, Mike Meyer co-taught a module of the Associated General Contractors of America’s Supervisory Training Program, organized by the Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable and held at the Construction Advancement Foundation in Portage. This is the fourth time Mike has taught a module of the program, which is designed to train construction industry employees on a wide variety of topics necessary for advancement into supervisory positions. The most recent module focused on Problem Solving and Decision Making and included sessions on reactive and proactive problem solving, human performance problems, planning and process improvement, and managing risk, emergencies and crisis situations.
Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP was a Silver Sponsor for the 2013 Construction Awards Banquet honoring safety and construction excellence in Northwest Indiana. The event was presented by the Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable (NWIBRT) and the Construction Advancement Foundation (CAF). NWIBRT is an independent non-profit council of local organizations committed to the improvement of construction and maintenance projects in Northwest Indiana. The goal of the CAF is to unite, promote, protect and help the interests of its industry contributors in Northwest Indiana. William F. Satterlee, III, Managing Partner of Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP, serves as Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of NWIBRT.
Bob Dignam successfully represented a healthcare provider charged with race discrimination, sex discrimination and retaliation after it declined to promote and subsequently discharged an employee who had sought a promotion to a managerial position after her department manager was discharged. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Chicago concluded that the evidence did not support the charges of race discrimination, sex discrimination or retaliation, and issued a determination dismissing the case.
Gerry Stout successfully represented a client in a real estate tax appeal in Laporte County. Through Gerry’s representation, the business client was able to secure a ruling which reduced the assessed value of its real property by approximately 45%. This reduction in assessed value will result in significant real estate tax savings for the client.
Michael Tolbert and Mike Meyer obtained summary judgment for a homeowners’ insurance company on a breach of contract claim arising from a water damage incident. The insured alleged that her water heater leaked and damaged her finished basement. However, there was no evidence of a sudden rupture of the water heater. Instead, the evidence revealed damage due to long term exposure to water, and seepage of water through the foundation. The policy excluded coverage for loss caused by slow, continuous leaks from a plumbing system, and also for loss caused by leakage or seepage of water through a foundation. Michael and Mike were able to demonstrate the application of each of these exclusions based on the evidence, which resulted in the court granting summary judgment for the insurer.
Sean Kenyon has been named a finalist in the category of Law by the Influential Women of Northwest Indiana. A 17-member steering committee chose a total of 90 finalists from 172 applications. Two women will be awarded in each of 11 industries, one for the Influential Woman Award and another for the Up and Coming Woman Award. The recognitions are for established women in their industry among several categories. Influential Women donates proceeds from the event to area nonprofits specifically benefiting women and girls in the community. A full list of the finalists, organizations and nonprofits that will be honored at the banquet is available at www.nwiwomen.com. Influential Women of Northwest Indiana is an organization devoted to providing women with the resources, recognition and motivation necessary to be successful in the business world. Each year, Influential Women honors the area’s most successful women in eleven different industries, ranging from construction and healthcare to education and government.
Mike Meyer, Kim Peil and Chip Owens all served as members of the Lake County Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Section planning committee for the association’s 2013 Law Day activities. In conjunction with promoting the Law Day presentations at numerous Lake County middle schools, on May 2nd, Mike gave a radio interview on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, regarding the history of Law Day and the 2013 theme: Realizing the Dream: Equality for All. In addition, Mike spoke of the importance of recognizing the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
Sean Kenyon, Partner in charge of Professional Development, Kim Peil, and Chip Owens traveled to Indianapolis and attended the Judicial Reception planned by the ISBA Young Lawyers section. All three attorneys enjoyed the unique opportunity to network with colleagues and countless judges serving on various Indiana county courts, Indiana Court of Appeals, and The Indiana Supreme Court. Hoeppner Wagner & Evans, LLP was proud to once again be a Gold Sponsor of the event.
On April 27, 2013, Shelbie Byers spoke to a group of high school students about her career path and provided advice for doing well in school. The students were high school juniors from area high schools participating in the In-Power Youth Mentoring program, which is a program where high school students are mentored throughout their high school career by members of the business community and encouraged to attain their college and career goals. The In-Power Youth Mentoring program is conducted in partnership with NIPSCO and the Northwest Indiana Urban League.
Larry Evans and Mike Meyer obtained summary judgment in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana for a local entertainment company which owned property where a construction project was being completed. The plaintiff, a laborer working for a subcontractor on the construction project, filed a claim of race discrimination under Title 42 U.S.C. § 1981, claiming that the client was aware of the existence of a hostile work environment and ongoing racial threats, but took no action to stop the alleged conduct. Through Larry’s and Mike’s representation, the court became convinced that the client had no contractual relationship with the plaintiff and did not interfere with the plaintiff’s employment with the subcontractor. In addition, the court concluded that while the client owned the premises, it had no control over the construction workers on the site, so none of the alleged discriminatory or harassing acts by the construction workers could be attributed to the client, as a matter of law.
Bob Dignam and Kim Peil obtained summary judgment in favor of a large manufacturer in a case alleging a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. The manufacturer entered into a last chance agreement with the plaintiff after a failed drug test and ultimately permitted the plaintiff to retire after another failed drug test. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana determined that the plaintiff had not experienced an adverse employment action by being subjected to the drug tests, and could not show race discrimination under the mixed motive theory which he alleged following his retirement.
Bob Dignam has concluded negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement for a local employer whose mission includes efforts to build a strong sense of community for the residents of Northwest Indiana.
Todd Leeth spoke to the Indiana Chapter of the American Planning Association at its 2013 Spring Professional Development Conference on March 15th in Columbus, Indiana. Todd spoke on the new administrative appeals procedure for zoning decisions of local units of government. The new procedures were adopted by the Indiana General Assembly. Todd is the current Chair of the Indiana State Bar Association - Land Use and Zoning Section.
Gerry Stout successfully represented a property owner in a Porter County real estate tax appeal. The Porter County Auditor denied and then removed the property owner’s homestead deduction and homestead supplemental credit for years 2009, 2010 and 2011. In addition, the Auditor assessed three years of back taxes and added on a 10% penalty, claiming that property owner did not qualify for the deduction. The back taxes were significant because the tax cap was changed from a 1% cap for homesteads to a 2% cap for other residential property. Through Gerry’s representation, the Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals reversed the Auditor’s determination and ruled that the property owner was entitled to the homestead deduction and homestead supplemental credit. As a result, the Auditor was directed to reinstate the homestead deduction and refund the excess taxes and penalties.
Hoeppner Wagner & Evans, LLP has been recognized as a 2013 Go-To Law Firm for the Top 500 Companies for the work of its attorneys in Litigation. This honor puts the firm in an elite group of firms that deliver exceptional work for the Fortune 500 – a noteworthy achievement. Congratulations to the entire HWE Team for all valuable contributions on behalf of our clients.
Bob Dignam and William F. Satterlee, III, Managing Partner of Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP, successfully defended a school corporation in unemployment benefits claim filed by a teacher who was on administrative leave pending the termination of his contract following an arrest for two Class D felonies – Child Seduction and Official Misconduct. While Bob and Bill were preparing to present evidence to the school board to complete the contract termination process, the teacher sought a postponement of the board conference. The school corporation allowed the postponement, but converted the suspension form paid to unpaid. In response, the teacher applied for unemployment benefits. The Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development ruled that the teacher could not show that he was “able, available and making an effort to seek full time work” within the meaning of Indiana Code § 22-4-14-3, and pursuant to § 6 Indiana Administrative Code 5-8-2(a), the teacher was not entitled to unemployment compensation because he had voluntarily requested leave from his job. The teacher has since resigned.
Mike Meyer has accepted a request by the Porter County Community Foundation to become a member of its Communications Committee, which provides direction for the foundation’s various printed and electronic communications, as well as guidance on delivering the foundation’s message to its various audiences. The mission of the Porter County Community Foundation is to inspire giving and engage the community to improve lives in Porter County now and forever.
Doug Walker served as a presiding judge at the Regional 2013 Indiana High School Mock Trial Competition held at the Federal Courthouse in Hammond, Indiana. This year the 2013 National High School Mock Trial Championship tournament will be held in Indianapolis on May 9-11, 2013, which will include the best high school teams from around the country. For more information on how to get your high school involved you can visit www.inmocktrial.org.
Bob Dignam and Kim Peil obtained summary judgment in favor of a hospital in a case alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1981, which prohibits race discrimination in contracts, and various Illinois laws. The hospital discharged the plaintiff as part of a reorganization, but offered alternative employment which the plaintiff declined. The plaintiff instead alleged that the motivation for the employment decision was discrimination and retaliation. The United States District Court in Chicago determined that the hospital’s actions were proper and in compliance with applicable federal and Illinois laws.
On January 12, Mike Meyer co-taught a portion of a Module of the Association of General Contractors of America’s Supervisory Training Program, organized by the Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable and held at the Construction Advancement Foundation in Portage. This is the third time Mike has taught a Module of the program, which is designed to train construction industry employees on a wide variety of topics necessary for advancement into supervisory positions. The most recent module focused on General & Specialty Contractor Dynamics and included sessions on understanding contractual obligations in construction contracts, assessing and evaluating bid compliance with plans and specifications, selecting a specialty contractor and effective communication among contractors.
Mike Meyer successfully defended an insurance company which was sued by its insured for breach of contract and breach of warranty. The insured hired a contractor to repair a water-damaged floor in her home, a loss covered by the policy. The insured claimed that the contractor was negligent in installing the replacement floor tile, and alleged that since the insurance company paid the insured’s chosen contractor directly for its labor and materials, the insurance company was equally responsible for the repair work under the contractor’s warranty. Through Mike’s representation at trial, a dismissal of the case, with prejudice, was achieved. The court concluded that the insured could not prove a breach of the insurance contract or that the insurance company ever agreed to guarantee the work of a contractor hired directly by the insured.
Bob Dignam and Kim Peil successfully defended a healthcare provider in an employment discrimination matter before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The healthcare provider discharged an employee for performance reasons, who then brought claims of race, color and national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and a claim of disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. After reviewing the documentation provided in behalf of the employer, the Commission did not find a discriminatory basis for the discharge decision.
Doug Walker served as a volunteer judge at the “We The People” Congressional District One Hearings at Indiana University Northwest where the team of students from Wilbur Wright Middle School in Munster earned the right to represent District One in the State Finals.
Gerry Stout gave a presentation to approximately 125 accountants on the topic of Estate Planning Issues at the Northwest Indiana Tax and Account Seminar in Schererville. The accountants received CPE credit for their attendance.
William F. Satterlee, III, Managing Partner of Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP, has been recognized by the Portage Chamber of Commerce for his four years of valuable service as a member of its Board of Directors. Bill always concluded the meeting with the statement, “Let me know whatever we can do for the chamber.” Hoeppner Wagner & Evans looks forward to further serving the Portage Chamber of Commerce in the future.
On November 10 and November 17, Mike Meyer co-taught a Module of the Association of General Contractors of America’s Supervisory Training Program, organized by the Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable and held at the Construction Advancement Foundation in Portage. This is the second time Mike has taught a Module of the program, which is designed to train construction industry employees on a wide variety of topics necessary for advancement into supervisory positions. The most recent Module focused the supervisor’s role and included sessions on risk management, planning, personnel management, employment matters, and understanding corporate policies and procedures.
Gerry Stout successfully represented a client in an appeal of a commercial real estate assessment. The appeal resulted in a substantial reduction in the assessed value of the property, which in turn resulted in significant real estate tax savings on an annual basis. Gerry has a couple more appeals pending for this same client, so further good news is expected.
Hoeppner Wagner & Evans and Bob Dignam have each received Carpenter’s Club plaques from Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana, of which Bob is a member of the Board of Directors. The Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana, Dan Klein, awarded these plaques to the firm and Bob for voluntarily providing legal services over the past three years. Gerry Stout has also been very generous in providing legal services for Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana in his areas of practice. Habitat for Humanity believes every person should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Through volunteer labor and donations, Habitat for Humanity and its homeowner families have built or rehabilitated over 500,000 houses. A nonprofit, nondenominational Christian housing ministry, Habitat invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build together in partnership.
Over 160 accountants attended Hoeppner Wagner & Evans' all day Annual Accountant's Seminar at beautiful Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton, Indiana. Our attorneys Jim Jorgensen, Todd Leeth, Keith Wolak (also a CPA), and Gerry Stout presented on topics ranging from taxes, estate planning and administration, social media, intellectual property and employment law. Featured speakers were Representative Ed Soliday who provided attendees with a Legislative and Economic Update; and Tony Bontrager of RE Sutton & Associates who presented a Healthcare Reform Update. Attendees received 8 hours of CPE. In anticipation of the continued success of this program, the 16th annual seminar is scheduled October 24, 2013.
Hoeppner Wagner & Evans was a sponsor of the Second Annual Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana Building Hope 5K Run/Walk at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point. Habitat for Humanity believes that every person should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Through volunteer labor and donations, Habitat for Humanity and its homeowner families have built or rehabilitated more than 500,000 houses. A nonprofit, nondenominational Christian housing ministry, Habitat for Humanity invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build together in partnership. Bob Dignam is a member of the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana and participated in the event. Bob’s wife, Wendy Dignam, also participated and won first place in her age division.
Bob Dignam has earned the Client Distinction Award, which was made possible by clients who took time to evaluate him in the following areas: Communications Ability, Responsiveness, Quality of Service, and Value for Money. Bob received a Client Review Rating Score of 4.5 or higher on a scale of 1-5. Less than 4% of the 900,000+ attorneys listed on martindale.com and lawyers.com have been accorded this Martindale-Hubbell honor of distinction.
William F. Satterlee, III, Managing Partner of Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP, was recently re-elected as Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of NWIBRT. Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable is an independent, non-profit council of local firms committed to the improvement of construction and maintenance projects in Northwest Indiana. The purpose of their organization is to promote safety, quality and cost effectiveness by all parties associated with the local area construction/maintenance industry. For more information about NWIBRT: www.nwibrt.org.
John Hughes has been selected for inclusion on the list of 2013 Indiana Super Lawyers. This honor, which recognizes lawyers who have distinguished themselves in their legal practice, is bestowed upon only 5% of the lawyers in the state.
Registration for Hoeppner Wagner & Evans' 15th Annual Accountant's seminar on October 18th, 2012 has opened. Full attendance will award 8 CPE credits. To register, click the following link http://www.hwelaw.com/2012-acct-reg.pdf. Submit your registration by clicking the "Submit" button on the registration form. Registration can also be submitted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax at (219) 465-0603.
On September 19, 2012, Larry Evans celebrated his 50th Anniversary of being sworn in to practice law. The firm surprised Larry with a brief gathering to commemorate the occasion, which was attended by many personnel of the firm as well as Larry’s wife and members of his family. The firm would like to congratulate Larry on his accomplishment and express its sincere gratitude for his continuing efforts in behalf of the firm, its attorneys and staff, and its valued clients. A special thanks is also extended to Leann Langbehn for all of her efforts in Larry’s and the firm’s behalf, and for organizing the wonderful event.
Larry Evans has been voted by his peers as the South Bend Bet-the-Company Litigation “Lawyer of the Year.” His achievement will be included in The Best Lawyers in America, 19th edition. The annual Best Lawyers publication has been described by The American Lawyer as “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”
Bob Dignam successfully defended a healthcare provider by obtaining a favorable ruling and dismissal of an age discrimination claim filed before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Although the employee complained to the Commission that her younger supervisor had warned her that she would be subjected to a corrective action if her performance did not improve, and allegedly made vague ageist remarks, the Commission understood that the employer immediately interceded in the employee’s behalf, so the evidence did not support a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
Jim Jorgenson has been nominated by the Lake Area United way as a "Power Player". The winner will be decided by the Building Indiana nomination committee at the upcoming The Big Schmooze event on September 13 at Avalon Manor in Merrillville.
John Hughes has been selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America, 19th edition for his work in the practice area of Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants. John's selection for Best Lawyers was based on an exhaustive and rigorous peer-review survey comprised of many confidential evaluations by top attorneys in the country. The annual Best Lawyers publication has been described by The American Lawyer as "the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice."
Larry Evans has been selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America, 19th edition for his work in the practice areas of Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Litigation - Construction, Litigation - Labor & Employment and Litigation - Real Estate. Larry's selection for Best Lawyers was based on an exhaustive and rigorous peer-review survey comprised of many confidential evaluations by top attorneys in the country. The annual Best Lawyers publication has been described by The American Lawyer as "the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice."
Bob Dignam successfully represented a healthcare provider charged with race discrimination after it discharged an employee for repeatedly entering false information about actual hours worked. The state civil rights commission concluded that the employer did not discriminate based on race, noting that it had also discharged another employee for theft who was not in the charging party's protected class.
Bob Dignam was featured in a Legal Q&A article in the Business Law section of the summer-fall edition of the Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly. Bob provided information about potential pitfalls for employers who search for information on the social media sites of prospective employees.
Larry Evans and Mike Meyer successfully defended a large general contractor in connection with a claim of racial discrimination on a construction site, brought by the employee of a subcontractor, itself hired by a subcontractor. The plaintiff had previously filed suit against the same general contractor for racial discrimination under Title VII. In the Title VII case, Larry and Mike obtained summary judgment for the general contractor. The plaintiff then filed a new suit, alleging racial discrimination in the making and enforcement of his employment contract, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Larry and Mike argued that the new lawsuit was an improper attempt to re-litigate a case that had already been decided, in violation of the doctrine of res judicata. The federal district court agreed, and dismissed the case.
Bob Dignam and Kim Peil successfully defended an Illinois hospital by obtaining a favorable ruling and dismissal of an age discrimination claim filed before the Illinois Department of Human Rights. The Department concluded that the hospital acted lawfully in discharging an employee for committing a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. As a result, the Department ruled that the hospital's discharge decision did not violate the Illinois Civil Rights Act.
Each month Hoeppner Wagner & Evans publishes a Legal Update which is sent electronically to our valued clients and friends in the business community. Please visit the Publications section of this website to read the articles. If you do not see an article on a topic or issue which interests you or would like to subscribe to the newsletter, please contact us for assistance.
Michael Tolbert, Kim Peil, Mike Meyer and Melissa Meyer now hold the title of Challenger Cup Champions after competing in the Stars and Strikes bowling fundraiser for the Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana, a chapter of the national Challenger Center for Space Science Education, created in memory of the Challenger Space Shuttle astronauts by the families of those who perished in flight, including teacher Christa McAuliffe, on January 28, 1986. Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans was a proud sponsor of this inaugural corporate challenge.
Gerry Stout presented at a legal education seminar for estate planning attorneys. At the seminar, entitled Estate Planning Basics, he spoke on the topics of "What you need to Know about Working with the Client" and "Wills and Trusts."
Hoeppner Wagner & Evans sponsored the first place award for the Law Day Essay Contest presented by the Young Lawyers Section of the Lake County Bar Association. Kim Peil, the Law Day Essay Chair, presented the first place award to the winning 8th grade student from Griffith Middle School. Chip Owens and Mike Meyer also served on the Law Day Committee and assisted in the planning of Law Day, and drafting the essay questions.
Sean Kenyon has been elected Treasurer and Kim Peil has been elected Secretary of the Indiana Women Lawyers Association . The Indiana WLA is a local chapter of the national association, whose mission is to provide a mutually supportive system of professional networking for its membership by establishing a forum for social fellowship, education, and the promotion and recognition of women lawyers. The Indiana WLA meets monthly to keep its members apprised of legal issues both locally and legislatively, and supports a variety of charities.
Sean Kenyon is an Influential Woman of Northwest Indiana nominee. Sean has been nominated as a candidate for the Influential Woman of the Year in Law award. The program's founder has recognized as follows: "Northwest Indiana is the center for the growing influence of women in the workplace. We are simply here to honor those women of the area who are working to build and help the women's place in the workforce."
Larry Evans attended a Valparaiso University School of Law awards ceremony and presented a plaque containing his "Ten Commandments for Lawyers." The plaque is awarded to law school graduates who write the "Honor Paper" or best paper in each section of the law school's Legal Profession class. Among the two recipients of this year's award was Jamie Kauther, who will join the firm as an associate in the fall. Larry's "Ten Commandments for Lawyers" are as follows:
Thou shalt be honest.
Above all, be honest. Be honest with juries; be honest with judges; be honest with colleagues, be honest with clients; and be honest with yourself. Honesty is the quickest and surest way to success and wealth.
Thou shalt be simple.
It takes a skilled person to make the complicated simple. The more simple an argument the more simple a letter, the more simple a legal position, the more powerful it will be. Its power diminishes in direct proportion to its complexity. Don't talk like lawyers.
Thou shalt be brave.
Have no fear of the courtroom. Have no fear of failure. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. A jury is a friend to be courted - not an enemy to be avoided. The only lawyers who never lose a case are the ones who never try one.
Thou shalt be independent.
Don't be servile. Even if you work for a salary, think and act like an entrepreneur - not an employee. This will enhance your self-respect and enable you to give your clients that which they deserve - your independent, professional advice.
Thou shalt be wise.
Analyze cases at the beginning, not at the end. Before becoming fascinated by legalities, look for equities. Cases, without merit will clutter up the courts and waste your time. Be willing to take meritorious cases - even without a fee, but know the difference!
Thou shalt be practical.
When all is said and done, lawyers are problem solvers. The objective is always to solve the client's problem as quickly, as economically and efficiently as possible. Treat clients as you would like to be treated.
Thou shalt be service minded.
Don't put fees first. If you take care of your practice, your practice will take care of you. Obviously, lawyers want to live well and be compensated for their time. In the long run, this will happen only if you think first of service to others. Our fee statements, which can be dazzling in size, are always for "services" rendered. Just serve the client.
Thou shalt be prompt.
Be on time. It is terribly irritating for others to have to wait for you. If a court sets a matter for hearing at a certain time, it is your obligation to be present at that time. Promptly return phone calls, even those you'd rather ignore.
Thou shalt be organized.
To be prepared, be organized. If you're organized, you won't have to hurry. A disorderly, agitated mind prevents clear thinking. Don't procrastinate. Do the hardest job first, not last.
Thou shalt be thyself.
Never imitate. Juries respect lawyers who are real, who may have flaws - who are human. Great lawyers are unique in the way they do things.
Larry Evans 1985 ©
Bob Dignam and Kim Peil obtained summary judgment in favor of a hospital and one of its department managers in a case alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, which prohibits race discrimination in contracts. The hospital discharged the plaintiff after it verified that she was abusing its Family and Medical Leave Act policy by arranging for time off and then working at another employer. After being fired, the plaintiff sued for race discrimination and retaliation; however, the federal court determined that the employer's and manager's actions were proper, as a matter of law.
Mike Meyer successfully defended a local pharmacy and medical supply company against a charge of discrimination based on disability and a claim of a hostile work environment. The claimant, a diabetic who was also clinically obese, filed a charge of discrimination with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Indiana Civil Rights Law after she was terminated for excessive absenteeism. Through Mike's representation, the Commission concluded although the employer made reasonable efforts to accommodate the claimant, she was still unable to perform the essential functions of her job. The Commission ruled that attendance at work was an "essential function" of the claimant's job, and that the employer had gone "above and beyond" its obligations to provide reasonable accommodations to the claimant. Ultimately, the Commission found no evidence of unlawful discrimination.
Doug Walker served as a volunteer judge at the "We The People" hearings at Indiana University Northwest. "We The People" is a project involving local schools which is coordinated by the Center for Civic Education and funded by the U.S. Department of Education to promote civic education in our local schools.
Bob Dignam successfully represented a school corporation in a matter involving a former employee who sought unemployment insurance benefits after being discharged for driving a school bus under a descending crossing gate with students on board as a train approached. Following an administrative hearing, the hearing officer concluded that the school corporation met its burden of demonstrating just cause for its discharge decision, and had acted in accordance with a known and uniformly enforced rule.
Keith Wolak, Chair of the firm's Wealth and Tax Planning Segment, gave an interview for the Spring/Summer 2012 edition of Retirement Living, serving Northwest Indiana and Northern Indiana Counties. Keith provided valuable insight based on his status as both a lawyer and certified public accountant.
Michael Tolbert successfully defended an insurance company in a Lake County case in which the plaintiff insured was hit by an intoxicated underinsured driver who was traveling over 100 mph when he hit the plaintiff. The plaintiff claimed a permanent spine injury and also sought recovery for substantial medical bills. The insurance company disputed the nature and extent of the plaintiff's injuries. After hearing the evidence, the jury limited the plaintiff's verdict to approximately 25% of the amount demanded, and the verdict amount was itself reduced by more than 50% pursuant to specific set-off provisions in the policy of insurance. Melanie Foster and Jarmila Simnick also contributed significantly to this excellent jury trial result.
Rich Davis successfully defended a corporation in a jury trial in the Porter County in which a former employee of the corporation alleged a failure to pay compensation owed after he left employment, and also sought penalties and including attorney fees under a wage claims statute. After the evidence was presented, the jury determined that no amounts were owed to the plaintiff, and entered a verdict for the corporation. Kevin Kerr assisted by preparing a trial brief and jury instructions, and Judy Davis provided valuable assistance as well.
Gerry Stout gave a presentation on Equine Contracts and Equine Liability at the Horsin' Around Clinic at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point. The clinic is sponsored each year by the Leininger Veterinary Clinic of Lowell.
Michael Tolbert authored an article entitled Don't just burn minutes — burn calories for the Fit To Practice section of Res Gestae, the Journal of the Indiana State Bar Association. The article educates lawyers about many mobile phone apps which can assist busy professionals in achieving a healthier lifestyle. Michael recently served as Treasurer of the Indiana State Bar Association.
Bob Dignam gave a presentation for 75 directors, managers and supervisors of a healthcare organization concerning proper employee appraisals and the timely administration of progressive discipline.
Todd Leeth had the honor of accepting a certificate recognizing HWE's support of the Porter County United Way, with an increase of over 25% for the campaign just concluded. The generous donations will help many agencies and their constituents throughout the year.
Mike Meyer, on March 10 and 17, participated in co-teaching a module entitled Problem Solving and Decision Making, for future construction supervisors and managers, as part of the Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable's Supervisory Training Program. Bill Satterlee is Vice-Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable, which is "Committed to the Improvement of Construction and Maintenance Projects in Northwest Indiana."
Bob Dignam successfully represented a healthcare provider charged with national origin discrimination after it declined to hire a job applicant who acknowledged an inability to adequately read or communicate in English, The employer met the EEOC guidelines of explaining the safety issues created by a lack of English language proficiency and the language requirement's correlation to job duties.
Sean Kenyon has agreed to serve as co-chair of the Welcoming/Membership Committee for Impact Porter County, an active giving circle through the Porter County Community Foundation. The Community Foundation's Women's Fund of Porter County brings women together for the purpose of improving the quality of life for women and children in Porter County by collectively funding high impact grants for charitable initiatives with the same purpose. Sean has also generously given of her time for this cause in the past.
Bob Dignam successfully represented a healthcare provider charged with gender discrimination after it discharged an employee with a history of stalking who had approached a younger, same-sex co-worker about a potential relationship. Following an investigation and analysis of the employer's position statement, the state human rights commission issued an order of closure to conclude the case.
John Hughes has been selected as a 2012 Indiana Super Lawyer in the area of Personal Injury Plaintiff.
Ron Kuker, who is enjoying his retirement, has been selected as a 2012 Indiana Super Lawyer in the area of Alternate Dispute Resolution.
Larry Evans and Mike Meyer successfully defended a large industrial manufacturer in a labor arbitration matter. The company had discharged an employee, and maintained there was just cause for its employment decision. The employee's union filed a grievance to challenge the discharge. Following an arbitration hearing and the submission of a post-hearing brief, the arbitrator ruled there was just cause for the discharge, and denied the grievance.
Bob Dignam has been named as a member of the board of directors of the Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana, which provides space exploration education and team building exercises for students and members of the public. The Center is a chapter of the national Challenger Center for Space Science Education, which was created in memory of the Challenger Space Shuttle astronauts by the families of those who perished in flight, including teacher Christa McAuliffe, on January 28, 1986.
At the Annual Installation Dinner of the Lake County Bar Association, at which Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller was the keynote speaker, Larry Evans was honored with an award in recognition of his fifty years of service as a member of the Indiana bar, John Hughes was recognized with the President's Award for his service on behalf of the Lake County Bar Association, and Michael Tolbert was recognized as the vice-president elect of the Association.
Mike Meyer successfully defended a restaurant during the trial of a premises liability matter involving a claimed injury stemming from alleged negligence in failing to maintain chairs in a safe condition. Through his representation of the client in the courtroom, the court's judgment was limited to the amount which compensated the plaintiff for her nominal damages, which was well below the amount the plaintiff requested the court to award, and was even below the amount originally offered to settle the case without a trial.
Larry Evans and Kim Peil obtained summary judgment in federal court for the seller of a product which had been sued by two seriously injured plaintiffs under theories of negligence and products liability. Through their efforts, they demonstrated for the court that after sale of the product, it was not used in a foreseeable manner, which entitled the client to judgment as a matter of law.
Gerry Stout has been very busy. He successfully represented a commercial client in a Porter County real estate tax appeal, securing an approximately 55% reduction in the assessed value of two parcels of property which resulted in significant real estate tax savings for the client. He also successful proving that the common area real estate of a property owners' association had no taxable value, which resulted in a determination that no real estate taxes were due. In Lake County, he represented several clients in connection with incorrectly assessed real estate taxes and penalties which were subsequently removed, so the clients received proper refunds.
Larry Evans and Mike Meyer obtained summary judgement in federal court for a large general contractor in a case involving alleged discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Through their efforts, the court was able to rule in favor of the client on the basis that the plaintiff was not the client's employee as a matter of law.
John Hughes and Mike Meyer successfully represented the family of an adolescent driver who was killed at a railroad crossing by a passing train. Through their representation, a recovery was obtained for the family of the deceased motorist from the State of Indiana, which the family contended had a duty to evaluate and make recommendations regarding the warning devices after the addition of a second track.
Michael Tolbert, John Hughes, Kevin Kerr, Melanie Chandler, Jarmila Simnick and many others on the HWE team concluded the successful representation of a restaurant which was sued for the wrongful death of a child based on alleged negligent hiring and retention, as well as other alleged causes of action, following the off-premises murder of a young waitress by a co-worker. The case was tried to a defense verdict in November of 2009. The verdict was affirmed on appeal, and the appellate process has now been concluded through the Indiana Supreme Court's denial of the plaintiff's petition for transfer.
Gerry Stout successfully represented a client to secure the return of his property, valued in excess of one million dollars, which had been sold at a tax sale.
Michael Tolbert and Rich Davis obtained a defense verdict for an insurance company in a jury trial conducted in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The insurer had been sued by its insured for an alleged breach of contract following the denial of a fire loss claim. Mike and Rich had previously obtained summary judgment for the insurer on the insured's alleged bad faith claim. Melanie Chandler was also instrumental in this excellent result for the client.
Jim Jorgensen was honored at the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center's 20th Annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards as the recipient of the Garry Bradley Small Business Advocate of the Year.
Bill Satterlee has been re-elected as Vice-Chairman of the Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable, an independent non-profit council of local organizations committed to the improvement of construction and maintenance projects in Northwest Indiana
On October 20th Hoeppner Wagner & Evans attorneys, Jim Jorgensen, Keith Wolak, Gerry Stout, and Lee Lane conducted the 14th Annual Hoeppner Wagner and Evans LLP Accountant's Seminar at beautiful Sand Creek Country Club. Successful completion of the all-day seminar awarded Certified Public Accountants with 8 CPEs.
Rich Davis spoke at a National Business Institute seminar on the subject of protecting Social Security Income and Medicaid eligibility by means of special needs trusts and similar devices.
Larry Evans has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2012 edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the areas of Commercial Litigation, Litigation - Construction, Litigation - Labor and Employment, and Litigation - Real estate.
John Hughes has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2012 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, in the area of Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants. He has now been selected for this honor for six consecutive years.
John Hughes was recognized last year and has again been recognized for the present year as an Indiana Super Lawyer in the area of Personal Injury Litigation - Plaintiffs.
Rich Davis spoke on the topic of ethics, as well as trial advocacy and comity, at a seminar addressing Medicare set-asides in personal injury litigation, in Merrillville.
Sean Kenyon has been named Executive Chair for the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Campaign, for Lake County, Indiana. The purpose of the campaign is to assist in funding research for the prevention and treatment of heart disease in women.
Sean Kenyon and Lee Lane served as co-chairs of Impact Porter County's Women's Fund campaign in behalf of the Porter County Community Foundation.
Hoeppner Wagner & Evans employee Linda Sulicz was recently named one of the Pink Ribbon Society's Calendar Girls for its annual 2012 calendar. She holds the title of "Ms. February," after being nominated by Attorney Sean Kenyon and fellow employee Leann Langbehn. Linda has shared that she is a five-year breast cancer survivor, and recently attended the 2011 Pink Ribbon Society's annual luncheon with Leann and Sean, and Attorneys Lee Lane and Kevin Kerr, co-workers Jamie Gill, Tameca Reeves, Karri Cook, Valerie Smith, Kit Runion and Judy Davis, as well as family members and friends. The firm sponsored three tables for the event, which was also attended by Managing Partner Bill Satterlee and Director of Administration Lois Evans. Attorney Jim Jorgensen served as a celebrity server for a capacity crowd of 720 attendees. The Pink Ribbon Society, founded by Ann Peters, is a charitable society which supports the Bundles of Hope program, the Indiana Women in Need program, the Indiana Breast and Cervical Cancer program, and the Wig Reimbursement program. The society reaches out to deserving women and men throughout Northwest Indiana.
Christy Ritter has been named a member of the Board of Directors of The Caring Place, Inc., which provides services and shelter for victims of violence and their children. Through education and awareness, The Caring Place strives to empower all members of the Northwest Indiana community to live in peace.
Bob Dignam conducted labor negotiations and obtained a favorable arbitration ruling for a contractors' association, by which the arbitrator selected the association's last best offer to establish the union laborers' wages and benefits for the next contract period.
Keith Wolak made a presentation to regional investment advisors at the Edward Jones University annual seminar on the subject of how to address client needs in an environment of "estate tax law chaos".
Bob Dignam gave a presentation on unemployment insurance benefits for the Society for Human Resource Management at the Avalon in Merrillville on April 13.
Bob Dignam gave a presentation on unemployment insurance benefits at the Construction Advancement Foundation of Northwest Indiana in Portage on February 25.
William F. Satterlee, III, Managing Partner of Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP was recently named Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of NWIBRT. Northwest Indiana Business Roundtable is an independent, non-profit council of local firms committed to the improvement of construction and maintenance projects in Northwest Indiana. The purpose of their organization is to promote safety, quality and cost effectiveness by all parties associated with the local area construction/maintenance industry. For more information about NWIBRT: www.nwibrt.org.
Bob Dignam authored an article about the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act which was published in the winter edition the Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly.