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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. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

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