Harness v. Schmitt, 924 N.E.2d 162 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010) – Governmental Immunity
In a recent Indiana Municipal law case, the presence of a police officer during the service of a wrongful eviction notice did not affect the police officer’s governmental employee immunity because the officer was present for the purpose of preventing a possible breach of the peace.
Mark Harness Jr. appealed from a grant of summary judgment in favor of the Town of Winona Lake and one of its police officers, Paul Schmitt. On January 12, 2007, Hunter Carlile went to the police station to enlist the help of Paul Schmitt to serve an eviction notice on Harness as well as to change the locks on Harness’s home. At the time, Harness was purchasing the house on contract from Carlile and had possession of the home. When Carlile and Schmitt arrived at the property, Harness was not present; however, Daniel Linton was. When Linton questioned the eviction, he noticed that Schmitt placed his hand on his gun. Linton decided not to resist or challenge the eviction because he felt threatened by Schmitt. So, Linton helped Carlile remove property from the house. Carlile also changed the locks.