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Couple should be allowed truck title

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of a couple in a vehicle title dispute, ruling the pair should be allowed to take the title free of an auto auction's security interest in the truck.

At issue in Indianapolis Car Exchange, Inc. v. Randall and Christina Alderson,  No. 80A02-0902-CV-116, is whether the trial court erred in granting summary judgment for the Aldersons and ordering the BMV to release a lien held by Indianapolis Car Exchange.

The truck in question was purchased by Mike Thurman at ICE through his car dealership. ICE had a financing agreement with Thurman despite the dealership's cash flow problems and ICE's insurance company refusing to cover transactions between ICE and the dealership.

Immediately following the purchase, Thurman sold the truck to Bonnie Chrisman of Lightly Used Trucks at another auction house; Chrisman arranged to purchase the truck for Randall Alderson. Thurman never paid ICE for the truck nor informed them of the sale. After learning of the sale, ICE asked the BMV to place a lien in its favor on the truck's title. The auto auction refused to release the lien and the Aldersons refused to return the truck.

In the Aldersons' complaint against ICE, both parties filed for summary judgment; the trial court granted it in favor of the Aldersons.

The Court of Appeals examined Indiana Code Sections 26-1-9.1-320(a), 26-1-1-201(9), and 26-1-2-403(1), which deal with buyers, sellers, and security interests. For a buyer to take free of a security interest created by the seller, the buyer may have knowledge that a security interest exists but may not have knowledge that the sale violates the rights of another person, according to the statutes.

ICE argues there are genuine issues of material fact in the case, including whether Chrisman and the Aldersons knew the sale violated ICE's rights. It pointed to the fact Chrisman told the Aldersons that Thurman "was running on Danny Hockett money," who is the owner of ICE, and that the sale took place at another auction after the first sale. But this evidence doesn't establish a genuine issue of material fact for trial, wrote Judge Michael Barnes.

"In the absence of designated evidence showing that Chrisman or the Aldersons had knowledge that the sale of the truck violated ICE's rights, Chrisman and the Aldersons were buyers in the ordinary course of business," he wrote.

Also, ICE did object to the sale, but only because Thurman defaulted, not because he sold the truck.

"ICE entrusted the truck to Thurman by delivering the truck to him and acquiescing in his retention of possession of the truck with the expectation that Thurman would sell the truck to someone else. This is the very circumstance in which Indiana Code Section 26-1-2-403(2) was intended to apply," Judge Barnes wrote.

Whether Indiana Code Sections 26-1-9.1-320(a) or 26-1-2-403(2) are read separately or in conjunction with one another, the Aldersons should be allowed to take title free of ICE's security interest in the truck, the appellate court ruled.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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