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Tracy v. Morell
Court of Appeals of Indiana
948 N.E.2d 855 (2011)
In 2002, Tracy (plaintiff) agreed to purchase a tractor from Morell (defendant) for $12,500. Tracy signed a promissory note and was to pay the purchase price in monthly installments. Tracy stopped making payments in June 2003, at which point Tracy had paid $8,500 under the note. In September 2003, Morell was charged with receiving stolen tractors and other farm equipment. Morell pled guilty to those charges. Tracy learned of the charges and requested that law enforcement authorities investigate his tractor to determine whether it had been stolen. The police found that the identification number on the tractor had been ground out, filled with putty, and then painted. However, the authorities were unable to conclusively determine if the tractor had been stolen. Tracy later brought suit against Morell for fraud, claiming that Morell knowingly misrepresented that he owned the tractor at the time of sale. Morell filed a counterclaim seeking the $4,000 still due under the promissory note. At trial, Morell testified that he was unaware that the identification number on the tractor had been altered. The trial court found that Morell lacked the necessary state of mind for Tracy to prevail on the misrepresentation claim. The trial court also held that the promissory note was enforceable and that Tracy was required to pay Morell the $4,000 balance.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Najam, J.)
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