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Fischer v. First International Bank

1 Cal. Rptr. 3d 162 (2003)

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Fischer v. First International Bank

California Court of Appeal

1 Cal. Rptr. 3d 162 (2003)

Facts

Karl and Pamela Fischer (plaintiffs) signed an agreement with First International Bank (defendant) to obtain two business loans. The agreement clearly and specifically identified Loan 1's collateral as a first lien on the Fischers' commercial lots, and Loan 2's collateral as both second lien on the lots and a deed of trust to the Fischers' house. The Fischers signed the trust deed at closing. In bold capital letters, the deed described it as security for the Fischers' Loan 2 note and "indebtedness." Anyone seeking to understand this word would have to follow a cross-reference to a definition, in fine print and 177 words of dense legalese, explaining that indebtedness covered any debt the Fischers owed the bank, even those debts that were otherwise legally unenforceable. The Fischers sold their house in 1999. After paying off Loan 2, the Fischers were left with sale proceeds of $125,000, which the bank wanted to apply toward paying off Loan 1. The Fischers sued the bank for breach of contract and several other offenses. In light of the trust deed's broad definition of indebtedness, the trial court entered summary judgment for the bank. The Fischers appealed to the state appellate court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Aaron, J.)

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