Northern Indiana Commuter Transp. Dist. v. Chicago Southshore and South Bend R.R.

Decision Date11 June 1996
Docket NumberNo. 46A03-9506-CV-187,46A03-9506-CV-187
Citation666 N.E.2d 447
CourtIndiana Appellate Court
PartiesNORTHERN INDIANA COMMUTER TRANSPORTATION DISTRICT, Appellant-Plaintiff, v. CHICAGO SOUTHSHORE AND SOUTH BEND RAILROAD, Appellee-Defendant.

Michael C. Harris, Harris, Welsh & Lukmann, Chesterton, for Appellant.

Stanley C. Fickle, Peter J. Rusthoven, Anne N. Deprez, Todd Vare, Barnes & Thornburg, Indianapolis, Michael J. Daley, Gregory C. Ward, Nisen & Elliott, Chicago, IL, for Appellee.

ON REHEARING

BAKER, Judge.

Appellee-defendant Chicago Southshore and South Bend Railroad (Southshore) has petitioned for rehearing asking us to set aside the portion of our decision in Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District v. Chicago Southshore and South Bend Railroad, 661 N.E.2d 842 (Ind.Ct.App.1996), in which we overturned a portion of an arbitration award in favor of Southshore. Specifically, Southshore argues that, because the courts in Illinois confirmed the arbitration award on December 20, 1995, before we issued our decision on February 20, 1996, the Illinois judgment is res judicata and is entitled to full faith and credit in the Indiana courts. In addition, Southshore maintains that we erred in addressing the merits of appellant-plaintiff Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District's (NICTD) complaint. 1

FACTS

As we stated in our February 20, 1996, decision, an arbitration panel issued an award on August 11, 1994, which provided that Southshore's annual Maintenance of Way (MOW) fee would be twelve percent (12%) of its gross revenues. Because NICTD disputed the award, it filed a complaint, pursuant to the parties agreement, in the LaPorte Superior Court on September 9, 1994, seeking to have the award set aside. Instead of filing an answer, Southshore filed a motion to dismiss arguing that, because the arbitration was held in Illinois, the courts in Illinois had exclusive jurisdiction to review the arbitration award. Southshore also filed a separate action on October 28, 1994, in the Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois seeking to have the arbitration award confirmed. Following a hearing, the LaPorte Superior Court granted Southshore's motion to dismiss on February 22, 1995, holding that it lacked jurisdiction to rule on the merits of NICTD's complaint. NICTD initiated its appeal of the LaPorte Superior Court's decision on March 7, 1995. Then, on March 14, 1995, the Cook County Circuit Court held that it had jurisdiction to confirm the arbitration award.

NICTD filed a petition in the Cook County Circuit Court on April 12, 1995, seeking to modify or vacate the arbitration award. In response, Southshore filed a motion to strike NICTD's petition on April 27, 1995, on the ground that it was not filed, as required by Indiana's Uniform Arbitration Act, within 90 days of the August 11, 1994, arbitration award. The Cook County Circuit Court granted Southshore's motion to strike NICTD's petition on September 6, 1995. Then, while NICTD's appeal was pending before this court, the Cook County Circuit Court confirmed the arbitration award on December 20, 1995.

DISCUSSION AND DECISION
I. Full Faith and Credit

On rehearing, 2 Southshore maintains that, because the Illinois court confirmed the arbitration award on December 20, 1995, before we issued our decision on February 20, 1996, the Illinois judgment is res judicata and is entitled to full faith and credit in the Indiana courts. The United States Constitution requires that "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the ... judicial Proceedings of every other State." 3 Full faith and credit thus generally requires every State to give to a judgment at least the res judicata effect which the judgment would be accorded in the State which rendered it. Durfee v. Duke, 375 U.S. 106, 109, 84 S.Ct. 242, 244, 11 L.Ed.2d 186 (1963). In Durfee, the Supreme Court stated:

[W]hile it is established that a court in one State, when asked to give effect to the judgment of a court in another State, may constitutionally inquire into the foreign court's jurisdiction to render that judgment, the modern decisions of this Court have carefully delineated the permissible scope of such an inquiry. From these decisions there emerges the general rule that a judgment is entitled to full faith and credit--even as to questions of jurisdiction--when the second court's inquiry discloses that those questions have been fully and fairly litigated and finally decided in the court which rendered the original judgment.

. . . . .

After a party has his day in court, with the opportunity to present his evidence and his view of the law, a collateral attack upon the decision as to jurisdiction there rendered merely retries the issue previously determined. There is no reason to expect that the second decision will be more satisfactory than the first.

Durfee, 375 U.S. at 111, 114, 84 S.Ct. at 245, 246; see also Security State Bank v. Washburn, 650 N.E.2d 74, 76 (Ind.Ct.App.1995).

Here, the LaPorte Superior Court granted Southshore's motion to dismiss on February 22, 1995, holding that it lacked jurisdiction to rule on the merits of NICTD's complaint. NICTD appealed the LaPorte Superior Court's decision to this court on March 7, 1995, and the Cook County Circuit Court accepted jurisdiction to confirm the arbitration award on March 14, 1995. Because NICTD had already filed its appeal of the Indiana trial court's decision with this court at the time the Illinois court accepted jurisdiction to confirm the arbitration award, the issue regarding jurisdiction had not been fully and fairly litigated and finally decided in Indiana. Thus, we believe that the proper course of action would have been for the Illinois court, as the second court, to stay its proceedings pending the outcome of this appeal. 4 Nevertheless, because the Illinois court, as the second court, accepted jurisdiction before the issue regarding jurisdiction had been fully and fairly litigated and finally decided in the Indiana courts, we are not required to give full faith and credit to the Illinois decision to confirm the arbitration award. 5

II. Due Process

Next, Southshore maintains that we erred in addressing the merits of NICTD's complaint. Specifically, Southshore maintains that, because it did not have the opportunity to respond to NICTD's complaint, our decision denied it the right to due process and in essence directed an entry of default against it. In our original decision, we determined that Indiana retained jurisdiction to review the arbitration award. Although we recognized that we would normally remand the cause to the trial court to give Southshore an opportunity to respond to NICTD's complaint, we decided, in the interest of judicial economy, to address the merits of NICTD's complaint. We did so because NICTD's complaint presented an issue of contract interpretation, which is a question of law to be determined by the court. Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, 661 N.E.2d at 847. In hindsight, we acknowledge that the better practice would have been to remand the cause to the trial court. However, because we...

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2 cases
  • Northern Indiana Commuter Transp. Dist. v. Chicago SouthShore
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • September 8, 1997
    ...effect which the judgment would be accorded in the State which rendered it." Northern Indiana Commuter Transp. Dist. v. Chicago Southshore and South Bend R.R., 666 N.E.2d 447, 448 (Ind.Ct.App.1996) (citation omitted). However, noting that NICTD had appealed the Indiana dismissal before the ......
  • NICTD v. Chicago SouthShore & South Bend RR
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • February 7, 2001
    ...due process of law by addressing the merits of NICTD's complaint. We denied SouthShore's petition. Northern Indiana Commuter Transp. Dist. v. Chicago Southshore and South Bend R.R., 666 N.E.2d 447 (Ind.Ct.App.1996). NICTD then filed its own motion in the Illinois trial court, arguing that t......

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