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Vintage Corvette belongs to the last buyer

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Although a 1965 Chevrolet Corvette was the subject of litigation over ownership when it was purchased by a third party on eBay, the Indiana Court of Appeals has found the hotrod belongs to the eBay bidder.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment granted to Donald Gindelberger in James N. Brinkely and Stephanie L. Brinkley v. Michael Haluska, P.E., d/b/a Retro Tech, et al, 32A01-1204-MI-181. It found Gindelberger to be a good faith purchaser for value.

The Brinkleys bought the Corvette in 2005 and, in 2006, contracted with Michael Haluska to restore the car for $12,500 plus parts and additional expenses. However, the parties eventually had disagreement about Haluska’s work and the amount of money the Brinkleys still owed.

Mechanic’s Lien Plus, hired by Haluska, filed a lien on the vehicle and sent a certified notice to James Brinkley at his father’s residence which was the address listed on the title. The notice stated the vehicle would be sold at public auction in August 2009 if the charges of $7,400 were not paid.

Brinkley did not receive the notice of the sale.

At the August auction, Haluska purchased the vehicle for $100.

Then Mechanic’s Lien sent a second certified notice to Brinkley at his own address, informing him the car would be sold at public auction in November 2009 if he did not pay the charges.

On Nov. 20, 2009, the Brinkleys filed a complaint for injunctive relief against Haluska to bar the sale of the vehicle and to regain possession. That same day, Haluska filed an application for certificate of title with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles and on Nov. 23, 2009, he was issued the certificate of title.

Haluska was served with the Brinkleys' complaint on Dec. 3, 2009, but he subsequently listed the car for sale on eBay. Gindelberger purchased the vehicle for $25,100 and received the certificate of title showing Haluska as the owner. Gindelberger did not examine the county court records prior to purchasing the vehicle.

After the trial court granted an injunction, ordering Haluska not to transfer title or deliver the signed title to the vehicle to any third party, the Brinkleys filed an amended complaint. They alleged Gindelberger was “not a bona fide purchaser for value without notice” because he had constructive notice of their lawsuit against Haluska.

The COA rejected that argument. It found there is no lis pendens notice for automobiles and there is no authority requiring Gindelberger to search pending litigation records prior to purchasing a vehicle.

 

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  1. It is amazing how selectively courts can read cases and how two very similar factpatterns can result in quite different renderings. I cited this very same argument in Brown v. Bowman, lost. I guess it is panel, panel, panel when one is on appeal. Sad thing is, I had Sykes. Same argument, she went the opposite. Her Rooker-Feldman jurisprudence is now decidedly unintelligible.

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