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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 3 today (and 12 NFP)

For publication opinions today (3):

In Debra K. Sands v. Helen HCI, LLC, a 9-page opinion, Judge Bailey writes:

This Court granted Debra K. Sands (“Sands”) permission to bring an interlocutory appeal of an order of the Boone County Superior Court denying her motion to enforce a settlement agreement between herself, Helen HCI, LLC (“Helen HCI”), Haverstick Consulting, Inc. (“Haverstick”) and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (“Kratos”), providing for dismissal with prejudice of Helen HCI's complaint against Sands in the Boone County Superior Court and dismissal with prejudice of Sands' complaint against Helen HCI, LLC, Haverstick, and Kratos in the Circuit Court of Eau Claire County Wisconsin. We reverse. * * *

Here, the parties entered into a binding contract which required the subsequent execution of a document memorializing their agreement and there is no uncertainty as to any substantial term of the settlement contract. “A court will not find that a contract is so uncertain as to preclude specific enforcement where a reasonable and logical interpretation will render the contract valid.” Conwell v. Gray Loon Outdoor Marketing Group, Inc., 906 N.E.2d 805, 813 (Ind. 2009).

The trial court erred in summarily concluding that no enforceable settlement agreement existed.

In Sutton Funding, LLC v. Jansuz Jaworski, First MIdwest, et al. , a 10-page opinion, Judge Baker writes:
In the midst of a refinance of a mortgage, the refinancing mortgage broker requested a payoff statement from the mortgagee bank. The bank provided a payoff statement, and the broker and title agent relied on the amount contained in that payoff statement in good faith. Although it was later revealed that the payoff statement mistakenly understated the amount of the mortgage by a significant amount, the mortgage broker and title agent were entitled to a release of the mortgage pursuant to the Indiana Code. After a default on the mortgage, litigation ensued to determine whether the originating bank or the refinancing entity had priority with respect to the mortgage. The trial court found in favor of the originating bank, and we reverse.

Appellant-Plaintiff Sutton Funding, LLC (Sutton Funding), appeals the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of appellees-defendants Janusz Jaworski and First Midwest Bank (First Midwest). Sutton Funding raises a number of issues, one of which is dispositive: whether the application of Indiana Code section 32-29-6-13 (Section 13) requires that Sutton Funding be provided with a release of the mortgage at issue and that summary judgment be granted in Sutton Funding’s favor. Finding that Section 13 requires such a result, we reverse and remand with instructions to enter an order directing First Midwest to release the mortgage to Sutton Funding and entering summary judgment in Sutton Funding’s favor.

In Steven E. Coates v. Heat Wagons, Inc., et al. , a 28-page, 2-1 opinion, Judge Bailey writes:
Coates presents numerous issues, which we reframe and restate as whether the trial court abused its discretion in granting a preliminary injunction against him because
1. There is no risk of irreparable harm to PHP from Coates’s continued operation of his business that would entitle PHP to a preliminary injunction, and prospective legal remedies will suffice to protect MPI’s interests;
2. MPI did not establish its likelihood of success on the merits of its claim against him because the covenant not to compete is unenforceable and MPI committed the first material breach of the underlying employment agreement; and
3. The terms of the injunction are overly broad relative to the covenant it seeks to enforce. * * *

The trial court did not err in determining that MPI faced a risk of irreparable harm and lacked adequate remedy at law as a result of any breach by Coates of the covenant not to compete. It also did not err in determining that MPI has a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of its case. Finally, the restrictions imposed by the preliminary injunction upon Coates’s use of the Web address www.heatersandparts.com and the red “H&P” logo are overly broad.

Affirmed in part, reversed in part.
RILEY, J., concurs.
KIRSCH, J., dissents with separate opinion. [that begins, at p. 26] I respectfully dissent. Covenants not to compete in employment contracts are in restraint of trade and have long been disfavored in the law. See Donahue v. Permacel Tape Corp., 127 N.E.2d 235 (Ind. 1955). To be enforceable, the scope of the restriction on competition in a covenant not to compete in an employment contract must be reasonable in terms of duration, activity and geographic area. Sharvelle v. Magnante, 836 N.E.2d 432, 436 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005). I believe the covenant now before us fails to meet this standard in terms of both activity and geographic area.

NFP civil opinions today (1):

William Smith v. Arbor Woods Apartments (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (11):

State of Indiana v. Jason Patton (NFP)

Ronald A. Steenbeke v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Roy Kresel v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Dorris Merriweather, III v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Michael S. Polites v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Oscar Delatorre v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Robert Beeler v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Daniel W. Myers v. State of Indiana (NFP)

M.C. v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Billy James Huff, Jr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)

James C. Gaskill v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 23, 2011 12:11 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions