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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. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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