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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 opinion(s) today (and 5 NFP memorandum decision(s))

For publication opinions today (1):

In Edward P. Kramer v. Focus Realty Group, LLC, successor in interest to AES Restaurants, LLC, an 11-page opinion, Judge Baker writes:

Over two decades ago, our Supreme Court held that attorneys are entitled to rely upon the representations of other attorneys. Fire Ins. Exch. v. Bell by Bell, 643 N.E.2d 310 (Ind. 1994). Today, we reiterate that principle and affirm the decision of the trial court.

Edward Kramer appeals the trial court’s award of summary judgment, which found him liable to Focus Realty Group, LLC (“Focus”), for breach of contract. Focus was contractually entitled to purchase a parcel of real estate for a certain price, which was to be calculated by adding a percentage of the then current annual net lease of one of the buildings to a base amount. When Focus’s attorney asked for the current monthly lease so that he could calculate the price, Kramer’s attorney responded with a figure $400 higher than the lease actually was. This resulted in a $40,000 increase over the correct purchase price. We find that Focus was entitled to rely upon the representations of Kramer’s attorney, and that Focus was entitled to mitigate its damages by going forward with the contract and suing for damages later. * * *

Pursuant to the Option, Kramer was contractually obligated to sell the property to Focus for a certain price; instead, he sold the property to Focus for $40,000 more than that price. It is entirely appropriate that he return that windfall, with interest.

Finally, we would like to say a few words about the attorneys’ conduct in this case. A strong argument can be made that Davis should have demanded a copy of the current lease from the outset of negotiations, rather than accept the $1,600 figure provided by Kammeyer. Davis then would have known that he was entitled to the $520,000 purchase price, and if Kammeyer had tried to negotiate a higher price, Davis could, as a last resort, sue for specific performance on the Option.

But we do not believe that Davis was required to take this course of action. As our Supreme Court has explained, “[t]he reliability and trustworthiness of attorney representations constitute an important component of the efficient administration of justice. A lawyer’s representations have long been accorded a particular expectation of honesty and trustworthiness.” * * *

Given that Davis was entitled to rely upon the inaccurate information about the current net lease, we believe that he was entitled to choose between two courses of action upon finding out the true figure. He could have stopped the deal, cancelled the Bluffton Purchase Agreement, and sued for specific performance on the Option. But, as he recognized, this would have entailed significant costs. He instead chose the other course of action: he mitigated his damages by going through with the deal, and sued to collect the overage afterwards. We cannot fault him for choosing the course of action that he did. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

NFP civil decisions today (2):

Jeffery L. Nelson v. Lorri M. Nelson, n/k/a Lorri M. Miller (mem. dec.)

Delmas Sexton II v. State of Indiana: Allen County Public Defender's Office, et al. (mem. dec.)

NFP criminal decisions today (3):

Kyle Hutton v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Joshua Johnson v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Jason A. Jones v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 16, 2016 11:40 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions