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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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