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Durham, other guarantors must post collateral on bond

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Tim Durham and two other men who promised to indemnify and post collateral on a surety bond issued by Frontier Insurance Co. must post collateral on that bond.  

Durham, Terry Whitesell and J. Roe Hitchcock were the principals of CT Acquisition. The company agreed in 1999 to buy Evans Trailers and John Evans Sales Co., with the price to be paid over time. The sellers insisted on a surety bond, which was put up by Frontier, but also demanded personal guarantees from the three principals.

CT didn’t pay up and the guarantors failed to keep their promise, leaving the sellers to turn to Frontier. But Frontier couldn’t pay on the bond because it was in financial distress and placed in “rehabilitation” by the New York Superintendent of Financial Services. Frontier then sought funds from the guarantors to honor their commitment to the sellers, demanding Durham, Whitesell and Hitchock post collateral under their agreement with Frontier. The men didn’t pay up.

After the sellers sued Frontier and earned a judgment of more than $1.5 million, plus post-judgment interest in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, Frontier sued the guarantors. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in the Southern District ordered the three men to deposit $1,559,256.78 with the clerk.

The guarantors argued based on their agreement with Frontier they didn’t have to post collateral until Frontier paid the sellers and that their only obligation is to indemnify Frontier after the fact. They hope that the ongoing rehabilitation will prevent Frontier from paying or reduce the amount it owes.

“Paragraph 3 says that a demand for collateral may occur ‘before [Frontier] may be required to make any payment thereunder.’ The Guarantors must keep their promise to post collateral,” Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote in Frontier Insurance Company v. J. Roe Hitchcock, Timothy S. Durham and Terry G. Whitesell, 11-3510.

“If the existence of a fund in the registry of the district court permits Frontier to pay the Sellers 100 cents on the dollar, the Guarantors have no legitimate complaint. There is no reason why Frontier’s financial troubles should benefit the Guarantors at the expense of the Sellers,” he continued. “If, however, New York’s insurance authorities instruct or permit Frontier to pay the Sellers less than the face value of the surety bond, then the Clerk of the district court will return the excess to the Guarantors. The final disposition of these funds thus depends on the outcome of Frontier’s rehabilitation. Until then, however, Frontier is entitled to the security that the Guarantors promised to provide.”

Durham was convicted last year in federal court in Indianapolis of 12 felony fraud charges and sentenced to 50 years for his role in a Ponzi scheme that defrauded Ohio investors out of $250 million. The charges stemmed from the collapse of Fair Finance Co. in Akron, Ohio. His law license in Indiana has been suspended, and his appeal in that case is being handled pro bono by a Chicago firm.

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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