Affirming trial court’s conclusion that Equal Access Law creates private cause of action and IDOI’s jurisdiction not implicated where preliminary injunction entered against sheriff’s use of preferred agent list

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Hendricks County Sheriff Dave Galloway brings this interlocutory appeal from the trial court’s Order Granting David Hadley’s Complaint for Preliminary Injunction (“Injunctive Order”).1 Sheriff Galloway raises four issues for our review, which we restate as follows:

1. Whether Indiana Code Section 27-10-3-18 (the “Equal Access Law”2) creates a private cause of action.

2. Whether the trial court abused its discretion in entering the preliminary injunction.
Conclusion (slip op. at 17-18):  In sum, we hold that the Equal Access Law creates a private cause of action and that the IDOI’s jurisdiction is not implicated here. We also hold that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting Hadley’s request for a preliminary injunction against Sheriff Galloway’s use of the Preferred Agent List. Finally, Hadley’s complaint is not barred by the doctrine of unclean hands.  Affirmed.

Key Analysis
(slip op. at 7, 13, 15, 17):  Here, the Equal Access Law does not explicitly state whether it is intended to be the basis for a private cause of action. Thus, we look to whether the Equal Access Law confers a public benefit, a private benefit, or both. See Blanck, 829 N.E.2d at 509. . . . and while the public might receive a benefit from that business, any public benefit is ancillary to the direct benefit conferred on bail agents . . . But Hadley and Lee both testified that Hadley had experienced a “[d]ramatic reduction in volume” of work since Hadley was removed from the Preferred Agent List. Appellant’s App. at 70, 146. It was within the trial court’s discretion to weigh the credibility of that testimony. The court’s conclusion that the removal of Hadley’s name from the Preferred Agent List presented Hadley with the “lost opportunity to do business” is not clearly against the facts and circumstances that were before the court . . . Sheriff Galloway’s assertion that he is not required to publish and give notice of his policies reads too much into the trial court’s statements. To be sure, it is true that “neither the Indiana Code nor Indiana Administrative Code contain provisions prescribing how sheriffs are to satisfy any supposed publication and notice requirements.” . . . Here, Sheriff Galloway alleges that Hadley has unclean hands because he has knowingly participated in the use of preferred agent lists in the past without objection. Thus, Sheriff Galloway continues, Hadley’s request for an injunction on the current list is “hypocritical.”  While Hadley’s position may be hypocritical, hypocrisy is not a cognizable legal issue. The only question before the court was whether Hadley was entitled to a preliminary injunction against the Sheriff’s current use of the Preferred Agent List. Prior lists that included Hadley’s name or the name of Hadley’s business had no “immediate and necessary relation to the matter being litigated.”  Accordingly, Hadley’s request for injunctive relief is not barred by the doctrine of unclean hands.

About Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

Bose McKinney & Evans LLP is a business law firm, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving both publicly held and privately held businesses, governmental entities and high-growth industries. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, international manufacturers, national and regional financial institutions, agribusinesses, sports teams, university-incubated start-ups, media, utilities, cities and schools, to name a few. We strive to build strong relationships with our clients as key business advisors, to exceed expectations in the quality of our work, to be knowledgeable about our clients’ businesses and sectors, to be responsive to service needs and to continually seek to improve the delivery of client services. Our ultimate focus is on our clients.
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