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Justices base ruling on level of intent

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The Indiana Supreme Court has determined that not enough evidence of intent existed for a judge to grant summary judgment for a bank alleging a business owner committed fraud.

In Harold J. Klinker v. First Merchants Bank, N.A., No. 01S04-1107-PL-438, the justices reversed an Adams Circuit Court ruling on fraud claims because genuine issues of material fact exist about whether the defendant acted with the requisite criminal intent.

The case involves a used car dealership manager in Decatur. In December 2008, First Merchants Bank discovered that 31 vehicles that the bank had loaned purchase money for weren’t in Harold Klinker’s possession and some had been transferred to another dealer. The bank sued Klinker on fraud.

When the bank moved for summary judgment, Klinker filed an affidavit stating that only 22 vehicles were “missing.” But the trial court refused to consider the document, reasoning that it had not been properly designated and that no genuine issue of material fact existed about the vehicles. The judge also determined Klinker had defaulted and acted with intent to commit fraud and granted summary judgment to the bank along with attorney fees and treble damages.

The Court of Appeals held the trial court had erred in refusing to consider Klinker’s, affidavit, but that summary judgment was proper because the affidavit consisted of self-serving statements unsupported by real evidence.

On transfer, the justices found that the bank’s evidence is not sufficient to warrant summary judgment on the element of intent. The trial court could have reasonably determined that only a simple breach of contract occurred rather than criminal fraud, regardless of how strong the evidence may have appeared, Justice Frank Sullivan wrote. The justices made a similar finding in regard to whether Klinker acted with the requisite intent under the state’s bank fraud statute.

The justices emphasized that they’re only determining whether summary judgment was proper, not the strength of the fraud evidence presented by the bank. The case is remanded for further proceedings at the trial level.



 

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  1. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

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