Hirsch v. Merchants Nat. Bank & Trust Co. of Indiana, No. 1--1074A144

Docket NºNo. 1--1074A144
Citation166 Ind.App. 497, 336 N.E.2d 833
Case DateNovember 13, 1975
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Page 833

336 N.E.2d 833
166 Ind.App. 497
Paul HIRSCH et al., Appellants (Defendant below),
v.
MERCHANTS NATIONAL BANK & TRUST COMPANY OF INDIANA, Appellee
(Plaintiff below).
No. 1--1074A144.
Court of Appeals of Indiana, First District.
Nov. 13, 1975.
Rehearing Denied Dec. 10, 1975.

[166 Ind.App. 499]

Page 835

Paul Hirsch, Robert J. Fink, Haymaker, Hirsch & Fink, Indianapolis, for appellants.

William P. Wooden, Wooden, Stark, McLaughlin & Sterner, Indianapolis, for appellee.

LOWDERMILK, Judge.

Plaintiff-appellee Merchants National Bank & Trust Company of Indianapolis (Merchants) instituted this action to recover for breach of lease for office space entered into between Merchants and the defendants-appellants, Paul Hirsch, Robert J. Fink, and Paul Hirsch and Robert J. Fink, d/b/a Haymaker, Hirsch & Fink, (Hirsch).

The parties hereto had entered into a number of lease agreements over the years and the lease now in dispute was a continuation of the same and was entered into for a term of two years from July 1, 1970 to June 30, 1972.

[166 Ind.App. 500] The pertinent portions of the lease which are the crux of this lawsuit are as follows, to-wit:

'7. That in case lessee shall vacate said premises, during the life of this lease, the lessor may, at its option relet said premises for such rent and upon such terms as lessor may see fit, and if a sufficient sum shall not be thus realized monthly, after paying the expense of such reletting and collecting the rent accruing from such reletting, to satisfy the monthly rent above provided to be paid by this lessee, then the lessee will pay and satisfy such deficiency, monthly.

'. . . and the occupation of said premises by lessee after the expiration of this lease or a forfeiture thereof shall not give lessee any right as a tenant, but lessee may be expelled at any time without notice, and lessee hereby agrees to pay reasonable attorney's fees, court costs, and any expense which lessor may incur in enforcing the conditions of this contract.'

The lease further stipulated an annual rental of $4,224.00 with installments payable monthly in advance in the sum of $352.00.

Hirsch paid the rent until they saw it was impractical to maintain the offices in the bank building and gave oral notice, which was followed by written notice, of Hirsch's intention to forfeit the lease. Hirsch defaulted the February 1, 1971 payment and moved from the premises and turned the keys over to Merchants.

Merchants brought its action to recover for non-payment of rent, which resulted in a jury's verdict in their favor of $5,800.00.

Hirsch contends that it was the obligation of Merchants to make a reasonable effort to relet the space in mitigation of its damages before the expiration of the lease term. The record discloses that Mr. Applegate, who is in charge of rentals for Merchants, showed the office space to prospective renters on at least two occasions but was unable to rent the space. Hirsch contends that the showing of the space was not [166 Ind.App. 501] sufficient to show good faith on the part of Merchants to mitigate the damages; that it was incumbent upon Merchants to advertise and speak to other people and make diligent effort to rent the space and the failure so to do released Hirsch from any liability for unpaid rent during the term of the lease on which he defaulted.

The issues presented for review are:

1. That the verdict is contrary to law;

2. That the verdict is contrary to law for the reason that the court erred in permitting the jury to view certain evidence and hear certain testimony presented by the plaintiffs, which testimony and evidence was erroneously allowed, contrary to law; and

3. The verdict is contrary to law for the reason that the court erred in giving certain of plaintiff's tendered instructions

Page 836

and in refusing to give certain of defendant's tendered instructions.

Hirsch chooses to combine and argue specifications 1, 2 and 3 and we shall treat the three as combined and argued.

Hirsch contends that the lessor, Merchants, must use due diligence to relet the premises when vacated and that the plaintiff has the burden of showing that it did in fact use due diligence in attempting to relet the premises and thereby mitigate damages. Hirsch relies heavily on the case of Carpenter et ux. v. Wisniewski et ux. (1966), 139 Ind.App. 325, 215 N.E.2d 882, to support this contention. He urges the showing of the premises to two people by Merchants is not adequate to mitigate damages and complains Merchants did not offer to relet the premises at a reduced rate nor did it advertise for tenants for the premises.

In Carpenter, supra, it is held that a lessor is required to use such diligence as would be exercised by a reasonably prudent man under similar circumstances. This is a question for the trier of the facts. In Carpenter, supra, the burden [166 Ind.App. 502] of such diligence was cast on the landlord by the reletting clause.

In the case at bar there is no requirement in the contract for the reletting of the premises in case of default by Hirsch. Although there was no mandatory reletting clause in the case at bar Merchants is still required to use such diligence as would be exercised by a reasonably prudent man under similar circumstances to relet the premises if possible. This is a question for the trier of the facts.

Mitigation of damages is a matter of defense which a party held responsible to respond in damages (Hirsch) has the burden of proving, as stated in Miller v. Long (1956), 126 Ind.App. 482, 131 N.E.2d 348:

'Mitigation of damages is a matter of defense, the burden of proving which is on the party held liable to respond in damages, and the failure of such party to make out his defense cannot affect appellants' (here appellee's) right to recovery. Mug v. Ostendorf (1911), 49 Ind.App. 71, 96 N.E. 780. The evidence concerning the matters urged by appellants was in dispute and the finding of the court was adverse to appellants. We cannot weigh the evidence.' 126 Ind.App. at 501, 131 N.E.2d at 357.

In the case at bar the burden of proof was on Hirsch, as there was no re- letting clause in the lease. The evidence concerning the matter of mitigation of damages was in dispute and there was evidence presented by each of the parties and the verdict of the jury was adverse to Hirsch. We cannot weigh the evidence. Miller v. Long, supra.

Hirsch further contends that a surrender occurred by operation of law, based on the following:

1. Merchants' acceptance of keys from Hirsch following abandonment;

2. Merchants' failure to send rental notices covering the entire period from February 1, 1971, the day of the abandonment,[166...

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36 practice notes
  • Austin Hill Country Realty, Inc. v. Palisades Plaza, Inc., No. 95-1273
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • July 9, 1997
    ...Sandor Dev. Co. v. Reitmeyer, 498 N.E.2d 1020, 1023 (Ind.Ct.App.1986) (commercial); Hirsch v. Merchants Nat'l Bank & Trust Co. of Ind., 166 Ind.App. 497, 336 N.E.2d 833, 836 (1975) (commercial); IOWA CODE § 562A.29(3) (1996) (residential); Harmsen v. Dr. MacDonald's, Inc., 403 N.W.2d 48, 51......
  • Sommer v. Kridel
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 29, 1977
    ...requirement. Compare Dushoff v. Phoenix Co., 23 Ariz.App. 238, 532 P.2d 180 (App.1975); Hirsch v. Merchants National Bank & Trust Co., 336 N.E.2d 833 (Ind.App.1975); Wilson v. Ruhl, 277 Md. 607, 356 A.2d 544 (1976) (by statute); Bernstein v. Seglin, 184 Neb. 673, 171 N.W.2d 247 (1969); Lefr......
  • Kingseed's Estate, Matter of, No. 2-478A122
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 15, 1980
    ...Kingseed children for farm rental and by Noel for fees. We agree. See Hirsch v. Merchant's National Bank & Trust Co. of Indiana, (1975) 166 Ind.App. 497, 336 N.E.2d 833. We do not agree with Noel's contention, unsupported by authority, that Ind.Code 24-4.6-1-101 through 103 and similar form......
  • Frankfort v. Owens, No. 2--375A53
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 22, 1976
    ...its subject matter is adequately covered by other instructions. Hirsch v. Merchants Nat. Bank & Trust Co. of Indiana (1975), Ind.App., 336 N.E.2d 833; Brattain v. Herron (1974), Ind.App., 309 N.E.2d We note also that our Indiana Supreme Court has generally condemned the use of mandatory ins......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
36 cases
  • Austin Hill Country Realty, Inc. v. Palisades Plaza, Inc., No. 95-1273
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • July 9, 1997
    ...Sandor Dev. Co. v. Reitmeyer, 498 N.E.2d 1020, 1023 (Ind.Ct.App.1986) (commercial); Hirsch v. Merchants Nat'l Bank & Trust Co. of Ind., 166 Ind.App. 497, 336 N.E.2d 833, 836 (1975) (commercial); IOWA CODE § 562A.29(3) (1996) (residential); Harmsen v. Dr. MacDonald's, Inc., 403 N.W.2d 48, 51......
  • Sommer v. Kridel
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 29, 1977
    ...requirement. Compare Dushoff v. Phoenix Co., 23 Ariz.App. 238, 532 P.2d 180 (App.1975); Hirsch v. Merchants National Bank & Trust Co., 336 N.E.2d 833 (Ind.App.1975); Wilson v. Ruhl, 277 Md. 607, 356 A.2d 544 (1976) (by statute); Bernstein v. Seglin, 184 Neb. 673, 171 N.W.2d 247 (1969); Lefr......
  • Kingseed's Estate, Matter of, No. 2-478A122
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 15, 1980
    ...Kingseed children for farm rental and by Noel for fees. We agree. See Hirsch v. Merchant's National Bank & Trust Co. of Indiana, (1975) 166 Ind.App. 497, 336 N.E.2d 833. We do not agree with Noel's contention, unsupported by authority, that Ind.Code 24-4.6-1-101 through 103 and similar form......
  • Frankfort v. Owens, No. 2--375A53
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • December 22, 1976
    ...its subject matter is adequately covered by other instructions. Hirsch v. Merchants Nat. Bank & Trust Co. of Indiana (1975), Ind.App., 336 N.E.2d 833; Brattain v. Herron (1974), Ind.App., 309 N.E.2d We note also that our Indiana Supreme Court has generally condemned the use of mandatory ins......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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