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Judges find wired payment timely

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Judges on the Indiana Court of Appeals declined to expand upon language in a forbearance agreement between a bank and business owner, finding the business owner timely made his final payment to the bank when he wired the money the day it was due, even though the bank did not receive it until the next day.

Fifth Third Bank, which made loans to Rick Singleton and companies affiliated with him, sought to foreclose on mortgages held by the Singleton parties. The bank and Singleton entered into a forbearance agreement, which stated Singleton would “make payments toward the outstanding Indebtedness owing to Lender under their respective Obgligations” by dates set forth in a schedule in the agreement.  The final payment of $350,000 had a due date of June 30, 2011.

A dispute between the parties as to when the bank must receive the funds led to a judge determining that the dates in the agreement, based on the language of it, means that a payment must be made by that date, not that the bank must receive the payment by that date.

On June 30, 2011, Singleton and his attorney were contacted by Michael Watkins of Fifth Third Bank to remind them that the final payment was due that day. Singleton’s attorney, Randall Arndt, asked Watkins how the money should be paid. Watkins directed Arndt to make a wire transfer as was done in the past. Singleton wired the money June 30, and Fifth Third received it the next day.

The bank then sought to renew its motion for entry of agreed final judgment, arguing the payment was untimely. Singleton filed a cross-motion to enforce the forbearance agreement. The judge ruled in favor of the bank, finding that Singleton had control of when and where to make the final payment, and chose a method that could delay payment.

In Rick Singleton, et al. v. Fifth Third Bank, 71A04-1202-MF-83, the Court of Appeals reversed based on the language of the forbearance agreement. The agreement doesn’t expressly provide for a particular method of payment, nor does it spell out when the money would be deemed paid if used by a funds-transfer system.

“[T]he parties’ intent is determined from the four corners of the document,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote. “We are not at liberty to supply omitted terms while professing to construe a contract.”

Singleton’s action of issuing an order to wire the funds for the final payment on June 30, 2011, constituted making payment under the agreement and did not constitute a termination event under the forbearance agreement, the judges ruled. They ordered further proceedings on the matter.

 

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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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