IBJNews

U.S. high court takes Indianapolis sewer case

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Supreme Court of the United States agreed Monday to review a case that questions whether the city of Indianapolis violated the U.S. Constitution in how it handled refunds for residents who paid assessments on local sewer projects.

The case, Christine Armour v. City of Indianapolis, led to a divided Indiana Supreme Court decision in May.

The case involves 45 homeowners in an Indianapolis subdivision who sued the city when they didn’t receive refunds of sewer assessments they paid. The case was named for Armour, one of the homeowners, because her name is listed first in the lawsuit.

In 2004, the city assessed each property $9,278 for a sanitary sewer project in the Northern Estates subdivision on the northwest side.  Homeowners were given the option to pay the fee in full or installments.

The next year, the Indianapolis Board of Public Works changed the way it financed sewer projects and adopted a policy that forgave 90 percent or more of the sewer assessments to Northern Estates residents who had elected to pay in installments.

The homeowners who paid the assessments in one lump sum prior to Nov. 1, 2005, were denied a refund by the city.

In 2009, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded that the differing treatment of identically situated homeowners violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The city was ordered to pay back $8,968 to the homeowners, plus interest and attorney fees.

However, in a 3-2 decision, the Indiana Supreme Court reversed the appeals court judgment and found no constitutional violation under the 14th Amendment had occurred.

Justice Frank Sullivan wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justice Steven David, while Justices Robert Rucker and Brent Dickson dissented.

The majority found that the city’s rationale was that low- and middle-class families were more likely to have been paying gradually and those who paid in full up front were more capable of affording the assessment.  

Plaintiffs will be represented at the U.S. Supreme Court by Roy Englert and Mark Stancil of Washington, D.C.-based law firm Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber LLP.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • flawed logic
    "The majority found that the city’s rationale was that low- and middle-class families were more likely to have been paying gradually and those who paid in full up front were more capable of affording the assessment."

    That assumption might be true or it might be that some families save money and some don't regardless of their income. As a matter of fact, they could have done the sample of families involved, and I bet you their incomes would be similar (between two groups).

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. They can always get jobs at the Post office.

  2. Hello i am Clarisa Steve from Florida USA,when i was in need of a loan of $230,000 to transit a business my friend introduced Mark Oscar loan firm to me because she got a loan from them sometime ago, so I was so scared because of the scams in the internet but my friend encouraged me to give them a try and i gave them a try and i got my loan within 4hrs and their ways was very easy no credit check,no cosigner,no collateral and their interest rate is just 2%, so i will advice anyone out there that need a loan to contact them via their Email:(oscarloanfinance@hotmail.com).

  3. "This was a very localized, Indiana issue," he said. As in, Indiana failed to expand Medicaid to cover its poor citizens resulting in the loss of essential medical services, including this EMS company. Well done, Indiana GOP. Here are the real death panels: GOP state governments who refuse to expand Medicaid for political reasons.

  4. In the "one for all, all for none" socialist doctrine the sick die...this plus obama"care" equates to caucasian genocide plus pushed flight to cities thus further eroding the conservative base and the continualed spiral toward complete liberal/progressive/marxist America.

  5. There is a simple reason why WISH is not reporting on this story. LIN has others stations in different markets that are affiliated with CBS. Reporting about CBS blindsiding WISH/LIN due to CBS's greed and bullying tatics would risk any future negoations LIN will have with CBS in other markets.

ADVERTISEMENT