Owsley lawsuit case closed for now; appeal possible

A federal judge has allowed the federal lawsuit filed by Logan A. Owsley against Bartholomew County officials to be administratively closed while appeals continue as to whether he can pursue claims on behalf of his late father’s estate.

In a Jan. 5 ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore said the federal case against seven Bartholomew County officials may be reopened at the request of Owsley or the defendants following resolution of a probate court dispute about whether the son of Cary Owsley has standing in the case.

In the motion from attorneys for Logan Owsley and the county officials seeking the stay, both sides state the next stages of discovery in the federal lawsuit will require numerous depositions and other discovery which will result in substantial cost.

The motion notes attorneys for the Bartholomew County officials plan to ask that the federal lawsuit be dismissed for lack of standing if the current probate ruling remains in effect, court documents state. That ruling, made Nov. 1, 2016, by Marion Superior Court Probate Division Judge Steven R. Eichholtz, states that Logan Owsley could not open an estate in Marion County for his father after the estate was closed and assets distributed in Bartholomew County.

Owsley’s attorneys have filed a motion to correct errors on the ruling stating that Bartholomew Circuit Court specifically assigned whatever interest the estate of Cary Owsley has in the federal lawsuit to Logan Owsley. That motion is pending in the Marion County probate court.

Trent McCain, Merrillville-based attorney for Logan Owsley, said an appeal will be filed with the Court of Appeals if the motion to correct errors is denied.

“It is hard to say how long this process will take all told,” McCain wrote in an email. “Logan, however, is not dismayed. Cary Owsley’s family is committed now more than ever to see that justice is done.”

Attorneys representing the county are not commenting, citing pending litigation.

The Owsley case has been ongoing since April 7, 2015, when the federal lawsuit was filed two years to the day after the shooting death of Cary Owsley.

The Owsley lawsuit alleges obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice based on discrimination, failure to intervene, hindering access to courts and intentional infliction of emotional distress in the aftermath of the investigation into Cary Owsley’s death, originally ruled a suicide by then-Bartholomew County Coroner Larry Fisher, court documents state.

Logan Owsley filed the lawsuit against then-Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark E. Gorbett; current and former deputies Ernest DeWayne Janes Sr., Dean A. Johnson, Christie L. Nunemaker, Brent E. Worman, William R. Kinman Jr. and Christopher M. Roberts; as well as Fisher.

Cary Owsley, 49, was found dead from a gunshot wound April 7, 2013, in his home in Zephyr Village outside of Columbus that he shared with his wife, Lisa. The investigation by the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department and Fisher concluded the death was a suicide, prompting Prosecutor Bill Nash to close the case in July 2013.

The suicide determination was challenged by Cary Owsley’s sister, Cheryl Jackson, who said Bartholomew County officials botched the investigation and lost and mishandled much of the evidence that could prove Cary Owsley was killed.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.