Indiana Judgment Liens against Real Estate

Indiana Judgment Liens against Real Estate In Indiana, when a judgment for monetary damages is entered in favor of a plaintiff, that judgment automatically becomes a lien for the judgment amount upon any and all real estate owned by the judgment defendant in the county where the judgment was entered.  See, Ind. Code § 34-55-9-2.  If the plaintiff knows or has reason to suspect that the judgment defendant owns real estate in any other Indiana county, the plaintiff can have the judgment indexed in such other county by delivering or mailing a certified copy of the judgment to the clerk of such county.  See, Ind. Code § 33-32-3-2(d).  Indexing the judgment in another Indiana county only costs $3 per county.  To obtain a judgment lien against non-Indiana real estate, the plaintiff will need to consult the laws of the applicable State because each State has its own procedure for domesticating foreign judgments. The judgment lien against real estate becomes effective automatically upon indexing of the judgment and remains effective for 10 years.  See, Ind. Code § 34-55-9-2.  A judgment lien takes priority as of the time of its indexing in the same manner that any other lien takes priority.  Therefore, liens already existing when the judgment is indexed will have priority over the judgment lien, while the judgment lien will have priority over any subsequently recorded liens against the property, including any subsequently recorded mortgage liens. Even if the plaintiff takes no action to enforce the judgment lien during the 10 years that it is effective, the lien can still benefit the plaintiff.  If the judgment defendant attempts to...

Ten Years to Fight Over a Contract?

Ten Years to Fight Over a Contract?! We are constantly emphasizing to our clients the importance of reading and understanding all of their contracts before signing them.  We also continually counsel our clients about the incredibly slow pace of litigation and how resolving business disputes through the courts can take many years.  A recent decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (which would hear federal cases under Indiana law) serves as a good illustration of these points: In that, the 7th Circuit reversed a jury’s award of $1,500,000.00 in favor of a sales representative, and found that the plain language of that representative’s contract showed that he was only entitled to $54,000.00 in commissions.  The reason for the reversal was that his contract very clearly stated that in order for the sales person to receive commission credit under the employer’s previous compensation plan, any sale must close on or before December 25, 2005.  The sale at issue did not close until March, 2006.  During the original trial, the trial court allowed evidence to be introduced concerning what was intended by the parties, as opposed to simply enforcing the plain terms of the contract.  With the introduction of that extra evidence, the jury awarded $1,500,000.00.  The Court of Appeals reversed that ruling and directed that the employee was only entitled to $54,000.00. A few interesting points that came out of this recent decision include the fact that this dispute has been ongoing for ten years.  For some perspective, the sale at issue closed about 18 months before the introduction of the iPhone and the decision was entered on July...

Oral Contracts are Enforceable in Indiana…

Oral Contracts are Enforceable in Indiana… But Not if They Affect Real Estate We often are asked whether or not contracts that are not in writing are enforceable.    As a general rule, those types of contracts are enforceable, but there are certain types of agreements and contracts that are required by law to be in writing.   One of those types of contracts is any contract which seeks to convey an interest in land. This fairly well established principle of law was recently reaffirmed by the Indiana Court of Appeals in a case involving a land contract.   Under a typical land contract, the seller retains legal title until the total contract price is paid by the buyer.  Legal title does not vest in the buyer until the contract terms are satisfied, but so-called “equitable title” vests in the buyer when the contract is executed.  It should be noted that the Indiana Supreme Court has previously determined that a land sales contract is similar to a mortgage, particularly if the buyer has paid more than a minimal amount of the contract price.    This affects what the seller must due in order to remove the buyer from the property if the buyer does not fully satisfy the terms and conditions of the land contract. In this new case, the two parties had entered into a land contract whereby the buyer would be making monthly payments until the end of the contract on November 30, 2010, when the unpaid balance was to be due in full unless renegotiated.  As the end of 2010 approached, the two parties entered into an oral agreement to...

Concerns for Small Business: Insurance Can Be a Savior

  Concerns for Small Business: Insurance Can Be a Savior Today’s post focuses more on a practical business reality as opposed to a purely legal issue.  Because we are celebrating Small Business Week, we will keep this blog post short as we know that all small business owners such as ourselves are always pressed for time and struggle to get everything accomplished while maintaining some sort of an otherwise normal life. Over the past few years the insurance issue has been discussed at length in the media and among small business owners as the health insurance requirements have continued to increase and put administrative demands and financial pressures on businesses of all size.  Aside from health insurance, worker compensation, and general liability insurance, there are a number of other insurance products that are available to small businesses that can help provide some protection to the financial strength of the business as well as help to minimize the disruptions caused by unforeseen circumstances that every business will face. Most small businesses do not have the financial capital or reserves to deal with unforeseen issues that arise that necessitate having to retain attorneys, perhaps paying for accidents or even failed contractual relationships.  Dealing with these issues requires the small business to dip into its operations accounts and thereby keeps that money from being used for more useful purposes such as growing the business or compensating the owners and employees for work previously performed.  As we all know attorneys’ fees can also cause a significant disruption in a business’s financial planning, as most small businesses do not set aside a legal budget...

Understanding Title Commitments

Understanding Title Commitments If you have ever had any involvement in a real estate transaction, including the sale or purchase of a home, you were likely aware that a title company was involved in the transaction, although you may have been confused regarding the title company’s exact role.  Title companies perform a variety of functions including: (i) acting as a third party escrow agent (holding earnest money until closing), (ii) preparing documents required to convey title to real estate in your State (deed, vendors affidavit, sales disclosure forms, etc), (iii) preparing the settlement statement that details the various closing costs and credits and the amount of money that must be paid by the buyer at the closing, (iv) conducting the closing itself, and (v) issuing title insurance. While each of these functions are important, this blog will concentrate on the means by which a title company issues title insurance.  Title insurance comes in two forms, owner’s policies and lender’s policies.  An owner’s policy is issued to the owner of the property and insures that no interests in the property exist when the buyer takes ownership of the property.  A lender’s policy is issued to the owner’s lender that financed the acquisition of the real estate and insures the priority of the lender’s mortgage lien as of the recording of the mortgage. It is critical that the buyer and the buyer’s lender understand the condition of the title of real estate before closing on a purchase.  Other interests in the real estate can significantly decrease, or even eliminate, the value of property.  Fortunately, the title company will provide a preview...
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