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. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

ADVERTISEMENT