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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ind. Decisions - “Our view is the university has a common law lien on a transcript for services provided”

That is a quote from a story this morning by Seth Slabaugh in the Muncie Star-Press. More from the story:

MUNCIE — Ball State University is appealing court rulings that would require it to release the official college transcript of a student who left the school with an unpaid tuition balance.

Last year, a Lake County judge ordered the university to release the transcript of Jordan Irons, who enrolled at Ball State in the fall of 2011 but withdrew in the spring of 2012.

The university’s appeal of the trial court’s ruling to the Indiana Court of Appeals was recently dismissed, but Ball State will ask the Indiana Supreme Court to review the case. * * *

Ball State’s policy withholds official college transcripts until debts are paid in full. * * *

“Our view is the university has a common law lien on a transcript for services provided,” [Jim Williams, an attorney representing Ball State] said. “The analogy is if you took your car in to get it fixed. The mechanic has a lien on the car until the bill is paid. Technically, the mechanic can withhold the car until the bill is paid.”

However, Lake County Circuit Court Judge George Paras ruled: “The Legislature has not created a statutory lien that would allow a university to withhold a student’s transcript for failure to pay tuition. The Legislature’s silence on this subject suggests that our Legislature has chosen not to bestow a state university with this sort of remedy ... If the [Legislature] wanted to grant BSU a lien on their transcript, it could. In the instant case, BSU has no retaining lien.”

Neither Irons nor Ball State cited any Indiana case law on the issue. The university cited a federal bankruptcy case from Wisconsin that Paras did not find convincing on the issue in this case. “As such, this is apparently an issue of first impression (a completely original issue of law),” Paras wrote.

He added, “importantly,” that Ball State can follow normal collection procedures, including filing a lawsuit, to collect “the alleged outstanding debt, if any.” * * *

Appeals Court Judge Michael P. Barnes, a former county prosecutor in South Bend, wrote: “The transcript simply is not like the irreplaceable documents — securities, receipts, deeds, leases or promissory notes — mentioned in (Allstate Insurance v Scroghan).”

The Court of Appeals opinion, decided April 14th, is Ball State Univeristy v. Jennifer Irons, In re the Marriage of: Jennifer Irons, Wife, and Scott Irons, Husband.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 22, 2014 08:46 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions