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In re Spearing Tool and Manufacturing Co., Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
412 F.3d 653 (2005)


Spearing Tool and Manufacturing Co. (Spearing) entered into a financing agreement with Crestmark (plaintiff) in April 2001, which was secured by all of Spearing’s assets. Crestmark filed a financing statement that listed “Spearing Tool and Manufacturing Co.,” as the debtor. This was the name Spearing had registered with the Michigan Secretary of State (Secretary of State). Through the financing arrangement, Crestmark would periodically advance addition funds to Spearing. In October 2001, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filed two notices of federal tax liens against Spearing with the Secretary of State due to delinquent employment taxes. The IRS listed the debtor as “SPEARING TOOL & MFG. COMPANY INC.” on the notices. Crestmark occasionally requested that the Secretary of State conduct lien searches, using the Spearing’s exact, registered name. Because of the technology used by the office, searches did not reveal financing statements filed under variations of a debtor’s name, including abbreviations. Therefore, the searches for “Spearing Tool and Manufacturing Co.” did not reveal any liens for “Spearing Tool & Mfg. Company Inc.” In February of 2002, the Secretary of State’s office returned its search results with a note that recommended also searching using the name “Spearing Tool & Mfg. Company Inc.” Crestmark did not do so. Crestmark continued to advance funds to Spearing from October 2001 to April 2002, when Spearing filed for bankruptcy. Crestmark filed a complaint in the bankruptcy court to determine the priority of these two liens. The bankruptcy court found in favor of the IRS, and Crestmark appealed to the district court. The district court reversed the bankruptcy court, and the IRS appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Cook, J.)

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