Business deemed “supplier” and subject to Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act

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Appellant-Plaintiff, Brad Lawson (Lawson), appeals the trial court’s judgment in favor of Appellee-Plaintiff, Rodney Hale d/b/a R.H. Equipment (Hale), on Lawson’s Complaint arising from the sale of a tractor. Lawson presents four issues for our review, which we consolidate and restate as the following three issues:

(1) Whether the trial court erred in ruling that Hale had not violated the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, Ind. Code §§ 24-5-0.5-1 to 24-5-0.5-12;

(2) Whether the trial court erred in ruling that Hale effectively disclaimed the implied warranty of merchantability; and

(3) Whether the trial court erred in ruling that Lawson had failed to establish the elements of common law fraud.

Conclusion (slip op. at 14):  We conclude that the trial court did not err in entering judgment in favor of Hale on Lawson’s claims for violation of the IDCSA and for breach of the implied warranty of merchantability. However, the trial court did err by entering judgment in favor of Hale on Lawson’s claim for fraud. Therefore, as to that claim only, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand this cause with instructions to enter judgment in favor of Lawson and to determine Lawson’s damages.

Key Analysis (slip op. at 8-9, 13-14):  A person is a “supplier” with regard to those consumer transactions which are at least indirectly connected with the ordinary and usual course of the person’s business, vocation or occupation . . . In this case, the sale of the tractor to Lawson was at least indirectly connected with the ordinary and usual course of Hale’s business . . . Despite several inquiries by Lawson about any problems with the tractor, Hale failed to disclose the cracked engine block . . . This strikes us as a textbook case of fraud.

About Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

Bose McKinney & Evans LLP is a business law firm, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving both publicly held and privately held businesses, governmental entities and high-growth industries. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, international manufacturers, national and regional financial institutions, agribusinesses, sports teams, university-incubated start-ups, media, utilities, cities and schools, to name a few. We strive to build strong relationships with our clients as key business advisors, to exceed expectations in the quality of our work, to be knowledgeable about our clients’ businesses and sectors, to be responsive to service needs and to continually seek to improve the delivery of client services. Our ultimate focus is on our clients.
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