Attorney Spotlight: Michael Cracraft Named Best Lawyers® 2017 “Lawyer of the Year” in Indianapolis i

August 15, 2016
Attorney Spotlight: Michael Cracraft Named Best Lawyers® 2017 “Lawyer of the Year” in Indianapolis in Communications Law

Ice Miller partner Michael Cracraft was named Best Lawyers® 2017 “Lawyer of the Year” in Indianapolis in Communications Law. Michael concentrates his utilities’ practice primarily in the areas of energy, water, wastewater, communications and administrative law. He provides full-service representation to a broad range of municipal and investor-owned utilities, and other institutional clients.

We asked Michael: What is the most challenging case you’ve worked on and why?

“Before my practice became focused primarily on utilities’ law, I also represented clients with state tax issues before the Indiana Department of State Revenue. After those conflicts were waived, I had the opportunity to represent the Department as outside counsel defending the State against a class action lawsuit seeking tax refunds based upon the contention the Indiana intangibles tax was unconstitutional. The challenge was that opposing counsel from Washington, D.C. had succeeded in overturning the intangibles tax laws in several states because they violated the Commerce Clause.

“Plaintiffs’ contention that the Indiana intangibles tax was unconstitutional arguably was distinguishable from the other state intangibles tax cases because the Indiana Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court had sustained a virtually identical version of the Indiana intangibles tax against a Commerce Cause challenge in 1912. Despite that precedent, the trial court certified a class of all persons who had paid the intangibles tax since 1981 and declared the intangibles tax unconstitutional, relying upon more recent Commerce Clause tax cases decided by federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. The State’s potential liability for intangibles tax refunds exceeded $300,000,000, plus accrued interest.

“The Department appealed directly to the Indiana Supreme Court, which reversed the trial court in May 1991 finding that the “modern [intangibles] tax is substantially like the tax at issue in 1912.” The plaintiff class filed a petition for a writ of certiorari citing several other intangibles tax Commerce Clause cases that were pending before, or had been recently decided by, the Court. The petition for a writ of certiorari ultimately was dismissed after attorneys’ fees were paid to the class representatives from an escrow of intangibles taxes, ending a challenging piece of litigation that began in 1984.”

Learn more about Michael here:

Fifteen other Ice Miller attorneys were named Best Lawyers® 2017 “Lawyer of the Year.” Click here to read more attorney spotlights.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances. 

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