Homeowner’s case against city stalled as pandemic delays Indiana court cases

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INDIANAPOLIS — The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a backlog of court cases waiting for trial, including a homeowner’s case against the city of Indianapolis.

The CBS4 Problem Solvers spoke to Anthony Dragan in 2017 after his home, in the Ivy Hills neighborhood in Castleton, flooded three years in a row. Dragan attributed the flooding to a broken culvert behind the property, which has since been repaired as part of a larger city project to fix flooding in the area.

“I just couldn’t afford the repairs, I couldn’t afford the upkeep,” Dragan said recently. “I decided to sell the house and just move on.”

Dragan hoped that filing a lawsuit against the city would help him move on, but the case has now been ongoing for three years.

“It has been a very long, drawn out process,” Dragan said.

The pandemic made the situation even worse since most court cases across Indiana have been unable to proceed to trial. In December, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an order suspending jury trials for the second time since the pandemic began, this time until March 2021.

“There’s a big backlog as a result of a year’s worth of trials not being able to go,” said Fred Schultz, President of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association.

Schultz stressed that a lot of work has been done to ensure that once jury trials resume, prospective jurors will be kept safe with strict COVID-19 protocols. Still, he said that the delays have been hard on clients who hope to see a resolution to their cases.

“We’ve had to have a lot of really heart to heart, frustrating conversations with people and just say, ‘We understand … that extra delay has been really hard,” Schultz said.

Despite spending tens of thousands of dollars on attorney’s fees already, Dragan planned to keep pushing forward in hopes his case could help other homeowners in the future.

“If I can help somebody else out there avoid this situation, or hopefully change this situation because I don’t feel that this is right, then I’ll take it all the way to trial,” Dragan said.

Mediation in Dragan’s case in January was unsuccessful. The case remains pending and attorneys with the city of Indianapolis declined to comment on pending litigation.

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