Citing the terms spelled out in the contract, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that a car dealer that entrusted a buyer with mailing a title to the lender will have to pay the balance of the auto loan.
Cruisin’ Auto Sales contracted with Springleaf Financial Services of Indiana Inc. to finance a car purchased by Cruisin’s customer, Jennifer George. Springleaf specified in the contract that Cruisin’ was to list the financial company as the first and only lienholder on the title, then mail the document to Springleaf.
The car dealer listed Springleaf as the lienholder but gave the title to George under the assumption she would mail it to the lender after registering the vehicle with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
On appeal, Cruisin’ argued it fulfilled its contractual duty by endorsing the check and naming Springleaf on the title as the lien holder. George failed to perfect Springleaf’s lien because she did not register the title with the BMV.
Moreover, Cruisin’ maintained Springleaf should have included language in the contract if it wanted the car dealer to register the title with the BMV.
The Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed the trial court’s judgment in Cruisin’, Inc., d/b/a Cruisin’ Auto Sales v. Springleaf Financial Services of Indiana, Inc., f/k/a American General Financial Services, 39A01-1309-CC-423.
It held that when Cruisin’ endorsed and negotiated the check, it accepted the terms of the simple contract which included the auto dealer must mail the title to the “payor.”
“Here, Springleaf is the payor and both George and Cruisin’ are payees on the Check,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the court. “Thus Cruisin’ agreed when it endorsed and negotiated the Check that it would mail the title to Srpingleaf, and, pursuant to the Letter accompanying the Check, list Springleaf as the lienholder on the title. Cruisin’ did not mail the title to Springleaf – it handed the title to George, who did not file the title with the BMV and subsequently stopped paying on the Loan Agreement. This conduct by Cruisin’ was a breach of its contract under the Endorsement.”
The Court of Appeals did remand for the trial court to correct a scrivener’s error and enter a judgment for $2,659.02 or explain why $2,779.02 is the right amount. Also, the court remanded for the trial court to enter the judgment damage award against both Cruisin’ and George jointly and severally.