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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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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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