Indiana court has jurisdiction over Michigan man who didn’t pay for seed

Over a Michigan man’s objections, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that a feed and farm supply store in northern Indiana can sue him for an unpaid bill in Indiana.

Michigan resident Harold David Walters, who lived closed to the border of Indiana and Michigan, contacted Lima Elevator Co. in Howe, Indiana, in 2010 to order seed and crossed into Indiana to pick it up. He never paid for the seed he received, so Lima sued in 2016 in LaGrange Circuit Court. Walters filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, which the court granted.

But Lima filed a motion to correct error, claiming Walters failed to meet his burden to prove lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court granted the motion to correct error, leading to this appeal by Walters.

Walters contends that Indiana doesn’t have jurisdiction because Lima isn’t suing him for ordering the seed or picking it up.

“Lima’s suit against Walters alleges he did not pay for seed he ordered from an Indiana business and picked up in Indiana. Further, the record indicates this is the third such order Walters made with Lima. There is no doubt Walters availed himself of the privilege of conducting activities in Indiana such that he could anticipate being sued in Indiana. Walters consented to Indiana courts having specific personal jurisdiction when he ordered seed from an Indiana company and traveled to Indiana to pick up the seed,” Judge Melissa May wrote.

The judges noted that Walters lives less than 20 miles from the courthouse and it was not an imposition for him to come to Indiana to pick up the seed.

The case, Harold David Walters v. Lima Elevator Company, Inc., 44A03-1609-CC-2214, was remanded for further proceedings.

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