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Judges uphold refund to pilot unhappy with plane rental’s service

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A man who prepaid into an account to be used when he rented planes to fly is entitled to a refund of $1,755.88 from a company offering flight instruction and rentals, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. The judges rejected the company’s claims that the small claims court erred by ruling in the pilot’s favor.

Anthony Trojnar rented planes over the course of several years from Eagle Aircraft. As part of an arrangement with Eagle Aircraft, he would deposit $1,250 into his account at a time, which would give him a $100 credit from the company, so he wouldn’t have to pay every time he came in to rent a plane. Dissatisfied that Eagle Aircraft would frequently tell him at the last minute that the plane he had booked was unavailable, Trojnar sought to close his account and for the $1,855.88 in it to be returned.

He filed a small claims action in Porter Superior Court, in which Eagle Aircraft presented a document, “Course Refund Policy” signed by Trojnar, that said prepaid flight accounts are nonrefundable except under extenuating circumstances. Trojnar agreed the contract applied to him and admitted that he was not entitled to a $100 credit in his account, but the rest of the money was his. Eagle Aircraft claimed that Trojnar had $1,500 worth of credits in his account and was only entitled $355.88.

The small claims court ruled in favor of Trojnar, awarding him the $1,755.88.

Eagle Aircraft appealed on three grounds: whether the court, in taking Eagle Aircraft’s Ind. Trial Rule 41(B) motion under advisement and subsequently adjourning the hearing, denied it an opportunity to introduce evidence; whether the court abused its discretion or erred in finding, as amended by its order on Eagle Aircraft’s motion to correct errors, in Trojnar’s favor; and whether Trojnar was unjustly enriched by the court’s order.

Citing Redmond v. United Airlines, Inc., 165 Ind. App. 395, 332 N.E.2d 804 (1975), among other cases, the appellate court ruled, “Under the circumstances, in which the trial court in a small claims matter invited the defendant to present evidence following the defendant’s Ind. Trial Rule 41(B) motion, we conclude that the court did not deny Eagle Aircraft the opportunity to present evidence when it took its Trial Rule 41(B) motion under advisement.”

The court did not err in finding in Trojnar’s favor nor was he unjustly enriched, the judges held in Eagle Aircraft, Inc. v. Anthony Trojnar,
64A04-1207-SC-386.

“It was only through the presentation of evidence at the small claims trial and motion to correct errors hearing that established Defendant’s Exhibit A governed the relationship between the parties. Recognizing that the trial court was in the best position to weigh the evidence and that small claims actions are informal and have the goal of dispensing speedy justice, we cannot say that the court’s ruling that Trojnar demonstrated extenuating circumstances was clearly erroneous, and we conclude that the court did not err in ruling in Trojnar’s favor,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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