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COA rules on Kroger fuel sign dispute

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment for a developer on its claims of criminal mischief, criminal trespass and criminal conversion against grocer Kroger after the store modified a shopping plaza’s sign once it added a fueling station. There isn’t evidence that Kroger had criminal intent when it modified the sign pylon.

Kroger and developer Metro Acquisitions entered into a reciprocal easement agreement and later amendment involving a shopping center in Indianapolis. Part of the agreement addressed a sign advertising Kroger and other shops on Parcel I. The sign pylon was later moved to Parcel IV. Kroger was responsible for keeping up the sign and the other shops would pay Kroger for the maintenance.

When Kroger installed a fuel station on its property, it modified the sign by removing a portion of it to advertise for the fuel and left the other businesses’ sign panels without lighting and electricity. WC Associates, as successor in interest to Metro, paid nearly $50,000 to restore the original sign pylon.

WC sued Kroger for breach of contract, theft, criminal conversion, criminal trespass and mischief. WC filed for summary judgment; it later claimed that Kroger had submitted false affidavits. The trial judge ruled in favor of WC and awarded a total of $143,440.88 to WC.

In The Kroger Co. v. WC Associates, LLC, as successor in interest to Metro Acquisitions, LLC, No. 49A05-1108-PL-412, the COA affirmed the finding of breach of contract against Kroger. Under the agreement and amendment, WC owned the sign and the amendment and agreement detailed what Kroger had to do to maintain the sign, which did not include allowing Kroger to modify the sign pylon or attach multiple sign panels to it.

The judges reversed summary judgment on the criminal trespass, criminal mischief and criminal conversion claims because there was no evidence of criminal intent on Kroger’s part. That will be up to a jury to decide.

The trial court properly awarded sanctions against Kroger for its affidavits and WC is entitled to appellate attorney fees only with regards to the breach of contract claim, the COA held. The judges remanded for further proceedings.

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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