Bowers Harrison Partner Greg Granger Picked to Run for Warrick County Circuit Court Judge

Bowers Harrison Partner Greg Granger has been selected to fill the vacant Republican candidate position for Warrick Circuit Court Judge. Greg, a lifelong Indiana resident, has been an attorney dedicated to his clients for more than 30 years. He represents a variety of local residents, in both civil and criminal matters, business law, immigration, and sports law. He has also served as attorney for the Warrick County Council since 2001.

In running for the Warrick Circuit Court Judge, Greg said, “I am honored to have been selected by the Republican Party as its candidate for judge of the Warrick County Circuit Court. My campaign will be driven by my enthusiasm, determination and confidence in my ability to serve the residents of Warrick County. I’m incredibly blessed to live in Warrick County and would love to serve a community that has given so much to my family and me over the years. My promise is to use every ounce of my ability to decide each case with diligence and a firm commitment to the rule of law.”

Greg will continue to practice law and represent his clients at Bowers Harrison, while running for office. For more information, please view the Evansville Courier & Press article by clicking here.

Joseph H. Harrison Retiring from Bowers Harrison, LLP

Joseph H. Harrison, a founding member and former managing partner of Bowers Harrison, LLP, has retired after sixty years of practicing law. He represented numerous businesses and individuals in the Evansville area concerning their daily business and personal needs. Mr. Harrison had primary responsibility for matters relating to corporate, banking and other commercial and business transactions, including real estate development, tax and estate planning, real property titles and title insurance, and acquisitions and divestitures. He has extensive experience before the United States Tax Court and in the preparation and funding of real estate and mineral transactions.

Mr. Harrison was admitted to practice in Indiana and the District of Columbia as well as being admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, United States Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit and the United States Tax Court. He was a member of the Evansville Bar Association, Indiana State Bar Association and the American Bar Association.

Everyone at Bowers Harrison thanks Joe for his service and wishes him well in his retirement.

One Battle Is Over, But The War Over Energy Production In Southern Indiana Rages On

A few months ago, the Indiana Supreme Court came down with a decision that greatly impacts the ongoing, energy dispute in Southern Indiana.  To be specific, the Supreme Court’s decision upheld a contract between the Indiana Finance Authority (“IFA”) and Indiana Gasification, LLC for the purchase and sale of substitute natural gas (“SNG Contract”). Signed in early 2011, the SNG Contract authorized the construction of a new plant in nearby Rockport, Indiana that would allegedly generate substitute natural gas, bring a substantial number of construction, plant, and mining jobs to the region, and save energy customers money. It was heralded as “big step forward” in achieving Indiana’s goal of “becom[ing] a national leader in homegrown clean energy production,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Certain advocacy groups and recent studies, however, argue that the SNG Contract will not benefit the region. As background, the $2.65 billion dollar SNG Contract arose out of the Indiana General Assembly’s adoption of pro-SNG legislation starting in 2009. The legislation was intended to address growing concerns about the short supply of natural gas markets and the exponentially increasing prices of that resource. Since that time, however, unforeseen technological advances and increases in production of natural gas have caused supply to rise and prices to drop.  Those market forces have dropped the price of natural gas so much so that the price of synthetic or substitute natural is more expensive than natural gas. Opponents to the SNG Contract now predict that the combination of these recent changes and the SNG Contract will cost Indiana government and Indiana citizens between $1.2 to $1.9 billion dollars in gross domestic product over the next decade and reduce Indiana employment rates.

That dire prediction is why some interested parties recently sought to invalidate the SNG Contract through the court system. Opponents to the SNG Contract argued that the 30-year, $2.65 billion dollar SNG Contract should be deemed invalid and unenforceable because the definition of “retail end use customers” in the SNG Contract was not consistent with Indiana’s Substitute Natural Gas Act (“SNG Act”). The SNG Act requires that the SNG purchased by the government must be allocated to “retail end use customers,” which are defined as customers acquiring energy “at retail for the customer’s own consumption.” The original version of the SNG Contract, however, defined industrial “transport customers” as “retail end use customers,” which opponents to the SNG Contract argued was not consistent with the statutory language of the SNG Act.

Based on that argument, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the government’s original approval of the SNG Contract, and in response to the Court of Appeals decision, IFA and Indiana Gasification amended the SNG Contract by deleting the improper definition. All other provisions of the SNG Contract, save that definition, remained untouched. The Court of Appeals denied rehearing of the issue, even after the SNG Contract had been amended, asserting that the SNG Contract had already been invalidated. Upon motion by the IFA and Indiana Gasification, the Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana then granted a transfer so that it could examine the validity of the SNG Contract.

Like the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court found that the original definition of “retail end use customers” of the SNG Contract was incompatible with the statutory definition laid down in the SNG Act. The Supreme Court then tackled the issue of whether the revised SNG Contract was enforceable. IFA and Indiana Gasification argued that, by amending the definitional language, the definitional problem was no longer a ground to render the SNG Contract invalid. The opponents of the SNG Contract, however, argued that the previous ruling by the Court of Appeals rendering the SNG Contract invalid made the revised SNG Contract “void and unenforceable in its entirety.”

After examining the issues, the Indiana Supreme Court held that the amended SNG Contract properly defined “retail end use customers” and was thereby compatible with the SNG Act. Moreover, the amendment rendered moot the definition issue, which had served as the basis for the appeal. The Indiana Supreme Court further explained that the argument that the SNG Contract was void after the Court of Appeals decision was unsuccessful because, when the Indiana Supreme Court grants a transfer, the underlying opinion of the lower court is, for all purposes, vacated. The Indiana Supreme Court therefore held that “upon [the] Court’s grant of transfer, any invalidation of the [retail end use customers] definitional provision was undone.” Since the SNG Contract was no longer invalid under the Court of Appeals decision and because the SNG Contract had been amended to include definitional language consistent with the SNG Act, the Supreme Court found that the controversy no longer existed and that the SNG Contract remains valid and enforceable.

The Indiana high court’s decision is essentially a win for the proponents of the SNG Contract. Under that decision, the IFA and Indiana Gasification do not have regulatory review and approval of the agreement. That being said, while the opposition to the SNG Contract may have lost the battle in the courts, it is certainly not admitting defeat. The opponents to the SNG Contract could reignite this ongoing dispute in the houses of congress. In January 2013, Indiana Senator Doug Eckerty brought forth Indiana Senate Bill 510, which is intended to void the SNG Contract. While Indiana Senate Bill 510 has already been passed in the Indiana Senate, it has not yet been passed by the house and signed into law. If passed and signed into law, that bill could potentially invalidate the SNG Contract for the Rockport facility and/or jeopardize potential funding for the project. With the recent Indiana Supreme Court decision and the battle in the courts coming to a close, it is possible that the battle over energy production in Southern Indiana could be revving up, with the houses of congress as the new theater of war.

If you have questions pertaining to the content of this article or any other questions about natural resource law, please contact the attorneys at Bowers Harrison.

Bowers Harrison, LLP Secures Major Rezoning in Evansville

Bowers Harrison, LLP secured a major rezoning for 13 acres of undeveloped land located at the intersection of East Virginia Street and Kimber Lane, between Burkhardt Road and Green River Road on Evansville’s East Side.

The rezoning was recommended for approval by the Evansville Area Planning Commission on January 9, 2014, and was unanimously approved by the Evansville City Council on February 10, 2014. The property was successfully rezoned from a Residential District (R-1) to a General Commercial District (C-4), with a use and development commitment restricting those uses classified in Use Group 21 (see Section 18.125.240 of the Evansville Municipal Code for more information). 

Obtaining the necessary zoning or permits for a development project can be very challenging, if you do not have an experienced real estate attorney to navigate you through the process. Zoning and land use ordinances are complex and constantly changing. Securing a rezoning requires special knowledge of local procedure as well as relevant zoning and land use laws. 

The Real Estate and Title Services Department at Bowers Harrison LLP is highly experienced in working with clients on complex commercial zoning, land use, and real estate development projects throughout Southwest Indiana. If you are in need of representation in any zoning, land use, or real estate development matter, please contact us at (812) 426-1231

Paul Black, ‘Of Counsel’ Attorney at Bowers Harrison, Recognized for Nonprofit Work

Paul Black, 'Of Counsel' attorney at Bowers Harrison, was recently featured in the article “A ‘Vital’ Part of Charitable Giving” in the Evansville Business Journal December 2013 edition.  The article describes Paul’s long history with United Caring Services, a day shelter in Evansville, that provides three meals a day, every day of the year for anyone in need.  Beginning in 1991, Paul helped the shelter set up as a nonprofit, and continuing in 2012, when he helped it merge with Ruth’s House.

Through a variety of actions, including board service and firm quarterly community service projects, Bowers Harrison attorneys and staff actively work to improve the community in which we live and work.

 

Bowers Harrison Lends a Helping Hand to Bethel Manor

Ivy Unit Holiday Gifts

As part of Bowers Harrison’s quarterly community service project, our staff collected gifts for the seniors in the Alzheimer’s care wing – the Ivy Unit – of Bethel Manor Nursing Facility. Those gifts will be presented next week at a brief Christmas program, which will include caroling.  If you or someone you know would like to learn more about volunteering at or donating to Bethel Manor, please visit http://www.bethelmanor.com or contact Nancy Peerman at (812) 425-8182.

 

Bowers Harrison Celebrates its 45th Anniversary

Bowers Harrison, LLP recently celebrated the 45th anniversary of the firm’s formation.   On October 1, 1968, the firm of Fitzgerald and Bowers merged with the firm of Buthod, Harrison, and Thornton with attorney K. Wayne Kent joining the new firm as well.  With its office in the Permanent Savings Building in downtown Evansville, the new firm of Fitzgerald, Buthod, Bowers, Harrison, and Kent was formed.

Today, Bowers Harrison, LLP is a multi-practice area law firm serving individuals, businesses and governmental entities in Indiana, Kentucky, and beyond.  We possess the depth of experience of a large law firm and consistently offer our clients individualized attention and immediate accessibility. We work hard to understand each client's business, industry, or personal matters in order to protect our client's interests while delivering high-quality, cost-effective legal services.

Paul E. Black, Long-Term Equity Partner, Retires

Bowers Harrison, LLP of Evansville, Indiana is proud to announce that one of its long-term equity partners, Paul E. Black, has retired from the full-time practice of law after thirty- nine successful years with the same law firm.  Paul’s retirement was effective July 1, 2013.  Paul will continue to be associated with Bowers Harrison as an “Of Counsel” attorney, but his practice and work schedule will be limited.

Paul joined Bowers Harrison in 1974 after serving in the US Navy JAG Corps, and until his recent retirement, Paul was the 2nd most senior tenured member of the firm.  His extensive litigation practice ranged from lead counsel in nation-wide class action law suits to pro-bono representation in family law matters. 

Paul has a long and storied list of community service legal activities, which include serving as the President for the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel and the Evansville Bar Association.  He continued to be an active member of the Evansville Bar Association where he served on numerous committees, the Evansville Bar Foundation, the Indiana State Bar Association, and Brooks Inns of Court. 

On a personal level Paul, is a founding member of Freedom Heritage Museum, a former Chairman of the Indiana Post-Secondary Education Commission, a former member of the State and local Arthritis Foundations, a former and long-time President of the Vanderburgh County Election Board, host of numerous public broadcasting radio and televisions productions, President of the University of Evansville International Alumni Association, President of the Bethlehem United Church of Christ, Vanderburgh County Public Education Foundation, member and past President of the Board of Directors of Good Samaritan Nursing Home, President of Rolling Hills Country Club and countless other civic, educational and professional groups.  In 1989, Paul was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash by then Governor, Robert Orr.

“Paul has served as the unofficial heart and soul of our firm for many years.  His daily guidance will be sorely missed.  We are just grateful he has agreed to continue his association with the firm on a more relaxed basis.  He still has a great deal to offer to his clients and to the members of our firm, especially as a mentor to our newer associates,” said his long-time partner, David Gray.