ILNews

Law clear only guarantor's signature needed

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on a guaranty issue today that is "so well-settled" in state law that the judges had difficulty finding recent cases restating it.

Debra Sullivan argued in Grabill Cabinet Co. Inc. v. Debra C. Sullivan, No. 02A03-0908-CV-399, that because Grabill Cabinet Co. didn't also sign a personal guaranty Sullivan had with the company, the guaranty was invalid. Sullivan signed the personal guaranty while she was an employee with Kitchens, Baths, & More, which guaranteed any repayment of debt KBM may have with the cabinet company. When KBM didn't pay on a balance, Grabill tried to collect from Sullivan. Sullivan had since left the company but didn't send Grabill any notice of termination of her personal guaranty.

The trial court granted summary judgment for Sullivan on the issue of enforceability of the guaranty.

The appellate judges disagreed with Sullivan's argument because the Indiana Statute of Frauds requires only that the party against whom the action is brought has to sign the written guaranty.

"Indeed, this seems to be one of those propositions so well-settled in Indiana law that it is difficult to find recent cases restating it," wrote Judge Cale Bradford. "Our Statute of Frauds has existed in substantially the same form, at least as it pertains to guaranties, for well over a century."

There is somewhat of a conflict between Indiana caselaw and the Statute of Frauds, and Sullivan relied on a ruling that required three parties to "execute" a guaranty for it to be valid. But signing a written guaranty isn't necessary for it to be executed and the Statute of Frauds has made it clear only the guarantor's signature is required.

The three Court of Appeals opinions that arguably define a signing requirement onto guaranties conflict with the plain language of the Statute of Frauds and Indiana Supreme Court precedent, the judge continued.

"If the Indiana Supreme Court wishes to graft new signing requirements onto guaranties beyond those mentioned in the Statute of Frauds, it may do so. As yet, however, the Court has not, and we are absolutely bound by its decisions in this regard," Judge Bradford wrote.

The appellate court reversed summary judgment for Sullivan and remanded for entry of summary judgment for Grabill on the issue and for calculation of the company's award.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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