Appeals court rules Cozmanoff wrongful death civil lawsuit can proceed

2013-05-23T14:37:00Z 2013-05-23T23:59:06Z Appeals court rules Cozmanoff wrongful death civil lawsuit can proceedSusan Brown susan.brown@nwi.com, (219) 662-5325 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | The Indiana Court of Appeals on Thursday reversed a lower court's decision to stay discovery in a wrongful death lawsuit launched against a Lakes of the Four Seasons man. James Cozmanoff, 43, is facing criminal charges in the death of Lake County corrections officer Britney Meux and injury to three others.

Cozmanoff faces trial June 24 in a hit-and-run in which 25-year-old Meux was struck and killed last year. Three other officers were seriously injured. The officers had been jogging in the area of the Lake County Government Complex at the time of the incident.

The administrators of Meux's estate filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against Cozmanoff. Attorneys for Cozmanoff filed a motion to stay all civil proceedings until the criminal case against him is concluded.

Following a hearing, the trial court had ordered Cozmanoff to file an answer to the civil complaint within 30 days but stayed the production of discovery.

Both sides appealed the decision, with the appeals court on Thursday ruling the trial court abused its discretion by not ordering discovery in the civil case to proceed.

Cozmanoff had argued allowing the civil case to proceed while his criminal case was pending violates his constitutional privilege against self-incrimination.

But the appeals court said at this early stage of the case, there are less drastic methods to promote justice than an indefinite stay of discovery in the civil case.

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