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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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