Court must consider loss of use when determining damages in a replevin action

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Court of Appeals Tuesday ordered a trial court to factor in the loss of use of a semi-tractor in a replevin action. It emphasized to the lower court that the amount of damages in a replevin action must be limited to a reasonable amount.

Red Husky LLC filed a complaint against the Roy Bayer Trust and trustee Penny Harris seeking replevin of a Kenworth semi-tractor and damages. Red Husky leased the Kenworth to Daniel Bowne and Bowne Transport, but Bowne defaulted on his lease for the Kenworth and stopped paying rent on a building owned by the trust. He abandoned the building, leaving the Kenworth behind. From September 2011 to September 2012, Red Husky tried to retrieve the Kenworth, but Harris refused, believing the trust had a lien against the semi-tractor.

The trial court ruled the trust did not have a valid lien against the semi-tractor and ordered it released. The trial court found Red Husky was entitled to $10,000 in damages due to deterioration during the time Harris refused to release the Kenworth.

“Harris is correct that Red Husky neglected to provide the trial court with a certificate of title to the Kenworth. Nevertheless, we conclude the evidence designated by Red Husky was sufficient to establish its ownership of the Kenworth, and thus the trial court did not err by awarding summary judgment to Red Husky,” Judge Margret Robb wrote in Roy Bayer Trust and Penny Harris v. Red Husky, LLC, 18A02-1307-PL-581. The judges pointed to evidence such as sworn statements claiming ownership, a lease to purchase agreement, and a form filed with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles indicating Red Husky was the lessor of the Kenworth.

They also ruled the $10,000 damages award was supported based on the fair-market value of the Kenworth of $16,000 and that it was sold for $6,000 due to deterioration that occurred while Harris held the semi-tractor for a year.

The COA believed the trial court should have also considered loss of use in its damages award, and ordered the trial court to do so. The judges cited McCready v. Harrison, 1:05-CV-1359-DFH-WTL, 2009 WL 62260 (S.D. Ind. 2009), in which the court held in a replevin action that loss of use damages must be reasonable in relation to the fair-market value of the property.

“We recognize that McCready is not binding precedent, but we believe the rule it espouses is a prudent one and should be considered in determining damages in a replevin action. The amount of damages in a replevin action must be limited to a reasonable amount — both as a general matter and in relation to the fair market value of the property. And although deterioration and loss of use are separate theories of recovery, we believe the total damages award is subject to a requirement of reasonableness,” Robb wrote.



Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Freedom From Religion Foundation: If you really want to be free from religion, don't go to the Christmas Play or the Christmas Pageant or the Christmas Parade. Anything with "Christ" or Saint...fill in the blank...would be off limits to you. Then leave the rest of us ALONE!

  2. So the prosecutor made an error and the defendants get a full remedy. Just one short paragraph to undo the harm of the erroneous prosecution. Wow. Just wow.

  3. Wake up!!!! Lawyers are useless!! it makes no difference in any way to speak about what is important!! Just dont tell your plans to the "SELFRIGHTEOUS ARROGANT JERKS!! WHO THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN ANOTHER MAN/WOMAN!!!!!!

  4. Looks like you dont understand Democracy, Civilized Society does not cut a thiefs hands off, becouse now he cant steal or write or feed himself or learn !!! You deserve to be over punished, Many men are mistreated hurt in many ways before a breaking point happens! grow up !!!

  5. It was all that kept us from tyranny. So sad that so few among the elite cared enough to guard the sacred trust. Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law. Sophocles No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor. Theodore Roosevelt That was the ideal ... here is the Hoosier reality: The King can do no wrong. Legal maxim From the Latin 'Rex non potest peccare'. When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal. Richard Nixon