Justices remove judge from court dispute between state, IBM

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The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday removed the judge who has presided for six years over the litigation between the state and IBM over the failed $1.3 billion welfare-modernization contract.

Lawyers for the state brought an original action in May seeking to remove Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer, who they argued exceeded his authority with rulings issued the day the Indiana Supreme Court certified its opinion reversing the trial court and remanding for a determination of the state’s damages. The state lawyers also suggested Dreyer’s actions in response to the Supreme Court opinion called into question his impartiality.

“The Court’s participating members have reviewed and discussed the filed materials. The Court’s majority concludes the State is entitled to a change of judge. Accordingly, the Respondents, the Marion Superior Court and the Hon. David J. Dreyer, are ordered to vacate all orders issued in the underlying case on or after May 6, 2016, and to grant the change of judge,” the court wrote in a two-page per order. Justice Mark Massa did not participate.
“Judge Dreyer is prohibited from exercising jurisdiction in the underlying case except that necessary to comply with this opinion and effectuate the change of judge. This opinion is final and effective immediately; petitions for rehearing or motions to reconsider are not allowed.”

Lawyers for IBM opposed the state’s petitions to remove Dreyer and vacate his rulings, which included finding that the state could prove no damages against IBM after the Supreme Court reversed his prior rulings, holding IBM had materially breached the contract. Justices remanded for a determination of damages, but Dreyer ruled without further proceedings that the state was entitled to no damages.

“Ultimately, the Supreme Court, on remand, instructed the trial court to make a ‘calculation’ of the parties’ damages,” IBM argued in opposing Dreyer’s removal. “The trial court did so correctly based on the trial record.  It is wrong for the State to suggest that the ‘calculation’ of damages was made without giving the State a sufficient opportunity to be heard.”

State lawyers cited Indiana Trial Rule 76(C)(3), which grants parties 10 days from the date of certification of an appellate court remand to request a new judge.

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