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Panel disagrees as to when woman failed to mitigate damages

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By a vote of 2-1, the Indiana Court of Appeals Friday reduced nearly $94,000 in damages to just $117 after finding the seller of a condo failed to mitigate her damages after the buyers backed out of the sale over repairs. Judge Cale Bradford believed seller Gayle Fischer was entitled to the original damages award.

Michael and Noel Heymann entered into a purchase agreement to buy an Indianapolis condo from Fischer for $315,000. An inspection of the property revealed several outlets did not have power and a light did not work properly. The Heymanns believed this constituted a “major defect” as defined in their agreement that allowed them to demand Fischer to fix the issues or walk away from the deal.

The Heymanns informed Fischer of the problems Feb. 10, 2006. She asked for an extension to agree to fix the issues, but the Heymanns on Feb. 15 said she had only until Feb. 18 to respond. Fischer never responded, so the Heymanns sought to buy another condo. Fischer’s electrician did resolve the issues, which cost $117 to fix.

This case has already gone before the Court of Appeals once, and the judges found the Heymanns attempted termination of the purchase agreement was ineffective and that Fischer was owed damages. In this appeal, the issue is when Fischer failed to mitigate her damages. The Heymanns claimed that she is only entitled to the $117; Fischer wants actual and consequential damages of more than $286,000.

In Gayle Fischer v. Michael and Noel Heymann, 49A02-1204-PL-340, Judges Edward Najam and Ezra Friedlander held that the trial court findings don’t support the original $94,000 award. The evidence shows that after the Heymanns breached the purchase agreement, Fischer could have easily mitigated her damages by indicating she would make the minor electrical repairs. They ruled that whatever additional damages she may have incurred through 2007 or 2011 were caused by her own failure to mitigate in 2006. They ordered that she receive just $117, plus attorney fees commensurate with her recovery and costs.

Judge Cale Bradford believed that had Fischer assented to the inspection report response, she would have been required to make the minor repairs, but that would have been in performance of the purchase agreement, not in mitigation of damages. The contract didn’t require her to fix minor defects in the home. Instead, she failed to mitigate her damages in February 2007 when she did not accept a $240,000 offer on the condo from another buyer.

As such, she would be entitled to the nearly $94,000, which includes $75,000 in damages, more than $15,000 in carrying costs and nearly $4,000 in attorney fees, Bradford concluded.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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