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COA finds Yellow Book ad contract induced by fraud

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A heating and cooling company does not owe Yellow Book for a contract it tried to break after finding the publication didn’t change the terms of the contract as promised, the Indiana Court of Appeals held. But, the heating and cooling company is on the hook for two other contracts it had that it failed to fully pay.

Larry Stone’s company, Central Indiana Cooling and Heating, entered into three 12-month contracts with Yellow Book to advertise in certain directories for the years 2008 – 2010. Yellow Book sued in August 2011, claiming the company failed to pay for the advertising as provided by the contracts and his personal guarantee on two of the contracts.

The trial court found that Stone and his company were appropriately credited for payments he testified he made to Yellow Book which he claimed the company didn’t apply, and it ruled that he properly cancelled Contract 3. This contract Stone claimed he signed with the understanding that the terms of the contract were just a placeholder until he could sign a new, less expensive contract. But after no one contacted him with a new contract, he was unable to reach anyone at Yellow Book afterward to cancel the contract.

The trial court also denied attorney fees for Yellow Book.

In Yellowbook Inc. f/k/a Yellow Book Sales and Distribution Company, Inc. v. Central Indiana Cooling and Heating, Inc. and Lawrence E. Stone aka Larry Stone, 30A05-1311-CC-561, the Court of Appeals found that Stone, in fact, was credited for payments that he claimed were missing. Stone admitted at trial that all payments he had perceived as omitted from Yellow Book’s account statement had in fact been credited toward his unpaid balances. Thus, the trial court improperly concluded he was not indebted to Yellow Book under contracts 1 and 2.

There was no error in concluding that Contract 3 was properly cancelled. Yellow Book argued that evidence of the oral misrepresentations made by Yellow Book’s salesperson to Stone are not admissible due to an integration clause in Contract 3. But Stone can overcome this clause because he relied on misrepresentations by Yellow Book when he signed Contract 3 as a placeholder contract. He was supposed to have a smaller contract, but he never received one and his attempts to reach someone at the company were not answered.

The trial court remanded for calculation of pre-judgment interest on contracts 1 and 2 and a determination of attorney fees for work done on those contracts.

 

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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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