ILNews

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

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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“We recognize that McCready is not binding precedent, but we believe the rule it espouses is a prudent one and should be considered in determining damages in a replevin action.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.

 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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