Broadacre Trailer Lodge, Inc. v. Johnson, 1-482A77

Docket NºNo. 1-482A77
Citation439 N.E.2d 684
Case DateAugust 31, 1982
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Page 684

439 N.E.2d 684
Delbert JOHNSON, Thelma Johnson, Ruth Milam, Elvis Milam,
and Kelly Milam, Plaintiffs-Appellees.
No. 1-482A77.
Court of Appeals of Indiana,
First District.
Aug. 31, 1982.
Rehearing Denied Oct. 4, 1982.

Page 685

Nelson G. Grills, Indianapolis, William Wolf, Wolf, Robak & Murphy, Greenfield, for defendant-appellant.

Robert S. Rifkin, Maurer & Rifkin, Indianapolis, for plaintiffs-appellees.

NEAL, Judge.


Defendant-appellant Broadacre Trailer Lodge, Inc. (Broadacre) appeals adverse judgments for punitive damages in favor of Thelma Johnson, Elvis Milam, Ruth Milam, and Kelly Milam, after a trial by jury in the Hancock Circuit Court.

We reverse.


Delbert and Thelma Johnson, husband and wife, owned a vacant mobile home located on a lot rented from Broadacre. With Broadacre's permission the Johnson sublet the lot temporarily to Elvis and Ruth Milam, husband and wife, and their seven year old son, Kelly, while Ruth Milam sought medical treatment in Indianapolis. All of the above persons commenced this action against Broadacre for wrongful eviction, alleging that Broadacre disconnected all utilities which serviced the trailer. After a trial the jury returned verdicts for the Johnsons and Milams and awarded damages as follows:

 Compensatory Punitive
                 ------------ --------
                Delbert Johnson $1,500. - 0-
                Thelma Johnson -0- $1,000.
                Elvis Milam -0- 10,000.
                Ruth Milam -0- 10,000.
                Kelly Milam -0- 10,000.

Separate verdicts were returned for each plaintiff, but the verdict forms were all identical and read as follows:

"We, the Jury, find for the Plaintiff, ________________, and against the defendant, Broadacre Trailer Lodge, Inc., and access [sic] compensatory damages in the amount of $__________, and punitive damages in the amount of $__________."

In each verdict the name of the plaintiff and the amounts of the respective awards, as indicated above, were set forth in the appropriate blanks.


The sole question, pointedly stated and narrowly argued, on this appeal is whether the awards of punitive damages can stand where there is an express finding of no actual damages.


In Newton v. Yates, (1976) 170 Ind.App. 486, 353 N.E.2d 485, this court stated:

"Apparently Indiana has never affirmatively taken a position on the question of nominal damages being a prerequisite for allowing punitive damages. In a number of cases Indiana has held that punitive damages must be in some reasonable proportion to the compensatory damages awarded, Murphy Auto Sales, Inc. v. Coomer (1953), 123 Ind.App. 709, 112 N.E.2d 589. From that holding, it is but a short and logical step to follow the better reasoned decisions of foreign jurisdictions in requiring...

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4 cases
  • Keehr v. Consolidated Freightways of Delaware, Inc., 86-2126
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • 15 Julio 1987
    ...Inc. v. Batchelor, 266 Ind. 310, 317, 362 N.E.2d 845, 849 (1977); see also infra p. 142. In Broadacre Trailer Lodge, Inc. v. Johnson, 439 N.E.2d 684 (Ind.App. 1st Dist.1982), another case relied on by CF, an Indiana court of appeals quoted the above language from Newton, seemingly with appr......
  • Tippecanoe Sanitary Landfill, Inc. v. Board of County Com'rs of Tippecanoe County, 2-982A324
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 10 Noviembre 1983
    ...was present, the trial court was bound to accept as true all facts alleged by TSL and resolve all doubts against the Board. Osborne, 439 N.E.2d at 684; Moll v. South Central Solar Systems, Inc., (1981) Ind.App., 419 N.E.2d 154, 159; Kendrick Memorial Hospital, Inc. v. Totten, (1980) Ind.App......
  • Don Medow Motors, Inc. v. Grauman, 3-482A67
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 29 Marzo 1983 breach of warranty actions where compensatory damages are awarded, Broadacre Trailer Lodge, Inc. v. Johnson (1982), Ind.App., 439 N.E.2d 684, 685-686; the public interest is served by the deterrent effect of the punitive damages, Hibschman Pontiac, Inc. v. Batchelor (1977), 266 Ind. 310,......
  • Grimes v. Jones, 04A03-8910-CV-457
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 13 Marzo 1991
    ...cause of action for punitive damages; they are derivative of actual damages. Broadacre Trailer Lodge, Inc. v. Johnson (1982), Ind.App., 439 N.E.2d 684, 686, transfer denied. This is rooted in the notion that it is not the primary office of the civil law to punish; such is the province of cr......

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