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COA affirms court order in trailer ownership and use dispute

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A court that granted relief from a previous order in a dispute over the ownership and use of 119 semi-trailers was affirmed Tuesday by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Celadon Trucking appealed a ruling from Hancock Circuit Judge Richard D. Culver in favor of United Equipment Leasing. United had purchased the trailers and leased them back to Teton Transportation Inc. in February 2012, and shortly thereafter, Teton sold nearly all its assets to Celadon. Teton is not a party in the case, and the trailers were not returned to United after it demanded.

United filed a complaint for replevin and sought damages for conversion and recovery of treble damages against Celadon, claiming unjust enrichment, among other things.

The trial court ruled on May 31, 2012, that United owned the trailers but had not proven other elements necessary for replevin: that trailers were unlawfully detained or that Celadon wrongfully possessed them. The court later granted United’s motion from relief from that order after it provided evidence that at least two trailers were on Celadon property and at least one was in use.

“The trial court’s grant of United’s motion for relief is sustainable under the trial court’s inherent power to reconsider, vacate, or modify any previous order so long as the case has not proceeded to final judgment,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote for the panel. “This is precisely what the trial court did in this case. The trial court was well within its discretion to grant United the requested relief.”

The case is Celadon Trucking Services, Inc., a/k/a Celadon Trucking Services of Indiana v. United Equipment Leasing, LLC, 30A01-1311-CC-507.

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