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COA finds argument that documents were ambiguous is really ‘a failure to read’

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A real estate investor who argued that he should not be held personally liable because the loan documents were ambiguous was reminded by the Indiana Court of Appeals that “a failure to read does not equate with an ambiguity….”  

In Steven Weinreb v. Fannie Mae, 49A04-1211-PL-587, the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s partial grant of summary judgment and grant of monetary award to Fannie Mae. Specifically, the court found the loan documents were not ambiguous; the non-recourse carve-outs and prepayments premium provisions of the note were enforceable; and the guaranty as well as the loan documents were not unconscionable.

It also concluded that claim preclusion and collateral estoppel do not preclude Steven Weinreb from challenging the lower court’s partial grant of summary judgment.

Weinreb, a resident of New York, and his business partners formed WK Strawbridge, LLC, in 2006 to acquire the title to Strawbridge Green Apartments in Indianapolis. Permanent financing was eventually sought from Arbor Commercial Funding, LLC, which provided a commercial loan in the principal amount of $6 million through Fannie Mae.

Beginning in December 2009, a series of mechanic’s liens were filed against the apartments, totaling $72,287.12. In July 2010, Strawbridge LLC failed to pay its monthly installments under the promissory note. A month later, Fannie Mae sent Strawbridge LLC and Weinreb a demand letter for immediate payment of the loan installments, ordering Strawbridge LLC to remit tenant rental payments directly to Fannie Mae, and advised that failure to pay amounted to a default under the terms of the note.

On July 20, 2011, Fannie Mae was awarded summary judgment in rem in the amount of $7.81 million. The trial court ordered foreclosure but found that Fannie Mae’s claims against Weinreb were not resolved by this judgment and could be pursued at a later date.

Fannie Mae then bought the apartments from the sheriff’s sale for $6.61 million, leaving a deficiency of $1.81 million plus interest and expenses. In Feb. 2012, Fannie Mae filed a complaint against Weinreb for the deficiency.

Weinreb argued he had not read the loan documents prior to signing them because the complexity of the papers was overwhelming. However, the trial court rejected Weinreb’s arguments and issued a partial summary judgment in favor of Fannie Mae and against Weinreb in the amount of $1.81 million.

Weinreb appealed, again asserting, in part, that the loan documents were extrinsically ambiguous which made summary judgment inappropriate. He did not raise an issue with the language but, rather, he argued that the implementation of the agreements resulted in latent ambiguity.

The court of appeals found no ambiguity in either the note, the mortgage or the guaranty. It also did not find any ambiguity coming during the implementation.

“A failure to read does not equate with an ambiguity arising from the implementation of the clear terms of the Note, Mortgage and Guaranty,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote for the court.
 

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  1. I work with some older lawyers in the 70s, 80s, and they are sharp as tacks compared to the foggy minded, undisciplined, inexperienced, listless & aimless "youths" being churned out by the diploma mill law schools by the tens of thousands. A client is generally lucky to land a lawyer who has decided to stay in practice a long time. Young people shouldn't kid themselves. Experience is golden especially in something like law. When you start out as a new lawyer you are about as powerful as a babe in the cradle. Whereas the silver halo of age usually crowns someone who can strike like thunder.

  2. YES I WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE IN A DIFFERENT SITUATION WITH MY YOUNGEST SON PEOPLE NEED TO LEAVE US ALONE WITH DCS IF WE ARE NOT HURTING OR NEGLECT OUR CHILDREN WHY ARE THEY EVEN CALLED OUT AND THE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE REPORTS NEED TO GO TO JAIL AND HAVE A CLASS D FELONY ON THERE RECORD TO SEE HOW IT FEELS. I WENT THREW ALOT WHEN HE WAS TAKEN WHAT ELSE DOES THESE SCHOOL WANT ME TO SERVE 25 YEARS TO LIFE ON LIES THERE TELLING OR EVEN LE SAME THING LIED TO THE COUNTY PROSECUTOR JUST SO I WOULD GET ARRESTED AND GET TIME HE THOUGHT AND IT TURNED OUT I DID WHAT I HAD TO DO NOT PROUD OF WHAT HAPPEN AND SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SEEKING MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR MY CHILD I AM DISABLED AND SICK OF GETTING TREATED BADLY HOW WOULD THEY LIKE IT IF I CALLED APS ON THEM FOR A CHANGE THEN THEY CAN COME AND ARREST THEM RIGHT OUT OF THE SCHOOL. NOW WE ARE HOMELESS AND THE CHILDREN ARE STAYING WITH A RELATIVE AND GUARDIAN AND THE SCHOOL WON'T LET THEM GO TO SCHOOL THERE BUT WANT THEM TO GO TO SCHOOL WHERE BULLYING IS ALLOWED REAL SMART THINKING ON A SCHOOL STAFF.

  3. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  4. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  5. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

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