ILNews

Court: Evidence shows car was a gift

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In a case of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court that a husband gave his wife a car as a gift, despite registering the title in both his name and his wife's name.

Whether or not a person can make an inter vivos gift of a car where his or her name remains on the title after the gift was delivered is a matter of first impression in Indiana. The issue arose in the case William A. Brackin v. Peggy J. Brackin, No. 05A02-0803-CV-218, in which William Brackin appealed the trial court awarding Peggy Brackin a car in dissolution proceedings that contained both of their names on the title.

The two had a prenuptial agreement that allowed for gifts made during the marriage to remain with the recipient. William argues the car is not a gift because his name is also on the title; Peggy argues he gave her the car.

The Court of Appeals examined the Restatement (Third) of Property: Wills & Other Donative Transfers and other state's caselaw to determine when a donor otherwise meets the requirements of an inter vivos gift of a car but keeps his or her name on the title, a presumption arises the donor didn't have donative intent to make a gift. However, the receiver of the gift can overcome this assumption with clear and convincing evidence, which Peggy provided, wrote Judge Margret Robb.

William told Peggy, "Come out and see the new car I bought you"; she primarily drove the car; and William damaged the car in an angry retaliation directed at her. The appellate court agreed with the trial court that if William believed he owned the car, it wouldn't make sense for him to damage his own property in retaliation, wrote the judge.

William failed to present any evidence negating his donative intent except for the fact his name was also on the car's title.

"Therefore, we find, as a matter of law, the evidence clearly and convincingly establishes William's donative intent and that William and Peggy intended the Lucerne as a gift to Peggy from William," Judge Robb wrote.

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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