Court of Appeals Says Fax is Contract

In a recent edition of the Indiana Lawyer, staff writer Jennifer Mehalik reported on the Court of Appeals’ recent publication of a case affirming summary judgment in favor of a landlord in his breach of lease claims against the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The court found a faxed agreement amending the original terms of the lease constituted a contract. In Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles c/o Joel L. Silverman, commissioner v. Ash, Inc., No. 74A01-0711-CV-518, the BMV appealed the grant of summary judgment and damages award to Ash, Inc. The BMV contended a fax sent to Ash modifying the terms of the original lease didn’t constitute a contract, so the BMV wasn’t bound by it. The BMV argued the January 2003 fax between the leasing director and Ash didn’t constitute a contract, so it could cancel its lease with 60-days notice as under the original contract. The Court of Appeals ruled the fax was binding because it was in writing, both the BMV’s leasing agent and Crone signed the fax, and the Statute of Frauds doesn’t apply in this case, wrote Judge Carr Darden. As such, the cancellation term was no longer available to the BMV. Even if the fax wasn’t considered a contract, Ash would still be entitled to summary judgment under the doctrine of promissory estoppel, the judge continued. Read the complete publication at:
InBMV_Contract_Case.pdf