ILNews

Federal judge gives green light to trial

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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A federal judge in Indianapolis has ruled a lawsuit can proceed to trial over a "very fast, and valuable, race car."

The Not for Publication opinion issued Wednesday by U.S. District Judge John D. Tinder is Reginald D. "Don" Whittington Jr. v. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation a.k.a. Hall of Fame Museum, No. 1:06-cv-0333-JDT-TAB.

Judge Tinder denied motions for summary judgment and determined that a trial is the only likely way to resolve this dispute involving the ownership of a famous Porsche 935 used in the French car race that is considered the Indianapolis 500 of endurance racing.

In 1979, the driver racing team of brother Don and Bill Whittington and German driver Klaus Ludwig won the 24 Hours of Le Mans that is raced in France each year on a circuit that combines racetrack and closed public roads. This litigation focuses on the ownership of the Whittingtons' 935 K-3 racecar, which both parties disagree whether it was donated or loaned to the IMS Museum of History in the early 1980s.

After giving the car to the IMS, Don Whittington raced for several years before dissolving the brothers' racing company, spending time in prison for tax conspiracy, and eventually asking in August 2004 for the Porsche to be returned so he could show it at a vintage car event in Florida. The IMS Foundation - which had maintained, insured for $375,000, and periodically displayed the car for more than 20 years - declined to return the Porsche it classified as a donation. This suit was filed in February 2006.

In Judge Tinder's ruling, he notes that neither party can point to written records establishing the nature of the ownership transfer - "the history of the Porsche 935 K-3 is little more than a story of handshake deals," the judge wrote.

As a result, he denied Whittington's motion for summary judgment on claims of conversion and replevin, and also denied the Foundation's motions for summary judgment on statute of limitations and laches grounds.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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