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Complaint for unpaid car loan filed outside of statute of limitations

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Because a company seeking to recover unpaid installments on a car loan filed its complaint outside of the four-year statute of limitations, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the small claims judgment in favor of the car buyer.

Chris Romine bought a 1996 Pontiac Firebird from Royal Motors Sept. 30, 2005, and financed the transaction. His biweekly payments began Oct. 15, 2005, but due to a severe back injury, he became unemployed and couldn’t keep up with his car payments.  

Heritage Acceptance Corp. as assignee of Royal Motors sued Romine in small claims court April 17, 2013, seeking the jurisdictional limit of $6,000 plus court costs. The trial court ruled in favor of Romine, citing the four-year statute of limitations applicable to “transactions in goods.” Romine also got to keep the car.

Heritage argued in Heritage Acceptance Corporation v. Chris L. Romine, 71A03-1307-SC-283, that the six-year statue of limitations for actions upon promissory notes, bills of exchanges or other written contracts for the payment of money applied. The company conceded that the contract, captioned “Retail Installment Contract and Security Agreement” resulted in “a sale of goods.”

“Indeed, the financing aspect of the contract is wholly dependent upon the sale of the car, because without the sale, the financing serves no purpose. Thus, although the transaction has aspects of a contract for payment of money, it is not exclusively a security transaction. Under Indiana Code section 26-1-2-102, the contract is a transaction for goods,” Senior Judge John Sharpnack wrote.

The judges also rejected Heritage’s claim that it still timely filed its complaint based on the acceleration clause, in which Heritage demanded that Romine pay everything owed in one lump sum.

“Here, Heritage waited until early April 2013 to exercise its right to demand full payment under the optional acceleration clause. Romine had tendered his last payment almost six years earlier. Furthermore, Romine’s schedule of seventy-eight biweekly payments would have ended in September 2008. Heritage did not demand full payment until well over four years after that deadline,” Sharpnack wrote. “We conclude … that waiting after these events have occurred to exercise an optional acceleration clause is unreasonable. Thus, Heritage’s long-delayed attempt to exercise the acceleration clause did not prevent the four-year statute of limitations from taking effect, and its complaint is barred.”

 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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