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COA affirms judgment for bank in replevin action

March 30, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld summary judgment for a bank in its attempt to repossess a motorcycle, finding that while the purchasers of the motorcycle had an interest in it, their interest was not superior to the bank’s perfect security interest.

Jacob Magish bought a Harley Davidson motorcycle, using a $15,000 loan from Fifth Third Bank. He never completed the proper title work and in fact fraudulently obtained a “clean” title. He fell behind on his loan payments and sold the motorcycle through Craigslist to Kristine and Larry Dawson. He gave them the fraudulent title.

Fifth Third attempted to repossess the bike and filed a replevin case. The Dawsons, who still have the motorcycle, filed a complaint to have the bank’s lien declared unenforceable so they can have a clear title. Fifth Third filed a counterclaim for replevin. Both filed for summary judgment, which the trial court granted for the bank.

When Magish defaulted on his loan, the bank, as the secured party, had a right to take possession of the motorcycle, the COA ruled in Kristine A. and Larry G. Dawson v. Fifth Third Bank, No. 49A02-1107-PL-704. The judges rejected the Dawsons’ claim that their purchase and ownership of the motorcycle precludes the bank from being able to prove that the Dawsons wrongfully held possession of the motorcycle. Judge Carr Darden noted that the Dawsons didn’t verify with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles before purchasing the motorcycle that the title had no liens.

The judges also rejected the Dawsons’ argument that the trial court erred by denying their motion for summary judgment on their claim for equitable estoppel. The Dawsons cited no caselaw to support their arguments and failed to show that the bank’s acts or omissions were responsible for their loss by purchasing the motorcycle without knowledge of the lien to the extent that equity should be granted to them, Darden wrote.

 

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