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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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