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Inner Circle Props., LLC v. Lease

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 20, 2014

INNER CIRCLE PROPERTIES, LLC, Appellant-Plaintiff,
v.
GEORGE LEASE, Appellee-Defendant

Editorial Note:

These opinions are not precedents and cannot be cited or relied upon unless used when establishing res judicata or collateral estoppel or in actions between the same party. Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure 65(D).

APPEAL FROM THE HUNTINGTON SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Jeffrey R. Heffelfinger, Judge. Cause No. 35D01-1305-SC-551.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: JUSTIN R. WALL, Wall Legal Services, Huntington, Indiana.

MAY, Judge. RILEY, J., and VAIDIK, C.J., concur.

OPINION

MEMORANDUM DECISION - NOT FOR PUBLICATION

MAY, Judge

Inner Circle Properties, LLC appeals the small claims court's award of $180.00 in attorney fees/collection costs. As Inner Circle was instead entitled to the collection attorney fee of $371.86, which the defendant George Lease agreed to pay, we reverse and remand.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Attorney Justin R. Wall, doing business as Wall Legal Services (collectively, " Wall" ) entered into an Attorney and Client Fee Agreement with George Lease on September 28, 2012. Lease agreed:

If a collection lawsuit is filed against [Lease] for fees and/or expenses due under this Agreement . . . [Lease] agrees to pay any attorney fees court costs and expenses associated with collection on [Lease's] account. [Lease] agrees that the collection attorney fee shall be in the sum of Thirty Five Percent (35%) of the amount of the unpaid principal and interest due.

(App. at 15) (emphasis in original).

Lease did not pay for the legal services Wall provided, leaving a balance of $1,062.45. On May 21, 2013, Wall assigned its rights under the Agreement to Inner Circle Properties, LLC. Justin Wall is the sole shareholder of Inner Circle. Inner Circle filed a Notice of Claim to collect under the Agreement, asking for the $1,062.45 balance, court costs of $92.00, and attorney fees in the amount of 35% of the unpaid balance principal and interest. In its Affidavit for Judgment by Default, Inner Circle requested a judgment of $1,434.31 plus $92.00 in court costs. The trial court entered judgment in the amount of $1,062.45 plus $180.00 in attorney fees, for a total judgment of $1,242.45 plus court costs. Inner Circle's Motion to Correct Error was denied.

In its ruling on the Motion to Correct Error, the trial court determined $180.00 was a reasonable fee because the case required little time or effort on Wall's part and the case was not novel or difficult. The trial court did not acknowledge or address the ...


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