Articles Posted in Indiana Supreme Court

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The parties to this lawsuit claimed rights to a punch press used in the manufacturing business of now-defunct Vitco Industries. Plaintiff, Gibraltar Financial Corporation, held a perfected security interest in Vitco's tangible and intangible property, including its equipment. Defendants, several entities including Prestige Equipment, who had acquired the press, and Key Equipment Finance, claimed that the security interest did not cover the press because the press was not Vitco's equipment, but rather, the press had been leased to Vitco by Key Equipment. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants after concluding that the lease was a true lease. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed regarding whether the press was leased. The Court noted that no evidence was on the record relating to the economic expectations of Vitco and Key Equipment at the time the transaction was entered into. Remanded. View "Gibraltar Fin. Corp. v. Prestige Equip. Corp." on Justia Law

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After conducting proceedings supplemental in a case on the small claims docket, the trial court ordered two self-represented judgment debtors to pay on the judgment despite their lack of non-exempt income. The court of appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals and reversed the trial court, holding (1) courts cannot order debtors to pay out of exempt income, and (2) entitlement to the ordinary statutory exemptions at issue in this case was not forfeited by failure of the unrepresented litigants to plead them as an affirmative defense in the course of the purposefully informal small claims process. View "Branham v. Varble" on Justia Law

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Loan borrowers entered into a residential mortgage loan. After a dispute about whether the borrowers paid the proper amount of property taxes, the mortgage holder filed a foreclosure action, alleging that the borrowers failed to pay monthly mortgage payments and fees. The borrowers asserted numerous legal defenses and claims against the mortgage holder and loan servicer. The borrowers asked for a jury trial on these defenses and claims, but the trial court denied the request, reasoning that foreclosure was an "essentially equitable" cause of action. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the essential features of this case were not equitable. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's denial of the borrowers' request for a jury trial, holding that the borrowers' claims and defenses shall be tried in equity because the core legal questions presented by the borrowers' defenses and claims were significantly intertwined with the subject matter of the foreclosure action.

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Countrywide Home Loans, a mortgage holder on certain real estate, foreclosed its mortgage, took title to the property at a sheriff's sale, and then sold the property to a third party. Before these events, the property owners executed a promissory note in favor of Citizens State Bank. When the property owners failed to pay the note, Citizens Bank obtained a judgment in trial court, which was properly recorded. At the time Countrywide filed its foreclosure action, it did not name Citizens Bank as a party. After Countrywide discovered Citizens Bank's judgment lien on the property, Countrywide filed an action to foreclose any interest Citizen Bank may have had on the property. Citizens Bank filed a separate complaint seeking to foreclose its judgment lien. The trial court directed Citizens Bank to redeem Countrywide's mortgage or be barred from asserting its judgment lien. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court also reversed the judgment of the trial court but on different grounds, holding that because Citizen Bank's lien on the property was properly recorded and indexed and because Countrywide did not explain why the lien was overlooked, Countrywide failed to demonstrate that it was entitled to the remedy of strict foreclosure.