Borrower’s Loan Reinstatement-Related Promissory Estoppel Defense Dismissed
May 27, 2022
Note: on 5/6/22 and 5/20/22, I wrote about the 410 case cited below. Today’s post addresses more issues from the same opinion. In particular, the 5/20/22 article provides context for today’s installment, which follows up on the “loan balance statement” at issue.
Lesson. A promissory estoppel theory in the defense of a foreclosure case often fails for the simple reason that there is no evidence the lender made an actual promise to the borrower (to reinstate or forbear).
Case cite. Wilmington Tr. Nat'l Ass'n v. 410 S. Main St. LLC 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21288 (N.D. Ind. Feb. 7 2022).
Legal issue. Whether a lender’s foreclosure action could be defeated on the basis of promissory estoppel, where the lender had tendered a “loan balance statement” during workout discussions that was arguably a commitment to reinstate a loan.
Vital facts. The “balance statement” (the subject of my May 20th post) was at the center of the Defendants’ promissory estoppel theory. The Defendants essentially claimed that they were “ready, willing and able” to reinstate the loan in reliance on the figures in the balance statement. The Defendants alleged that they took steps to obtain the necessary funds, but Lender “made an about face and refused to honor the Balance Statement, damaging Defendants.”
Procedural history. Lender filed a motion for summary judgment on the promissory estoppel claim/defense.
Key rules. The Court cited to an Indiana Supreme Court case for the five elements of promissory estoppel: “1) a promise by the promissor [here, Lender]; 2) that was made with the expectation that the promisee [here, Defendants] would rely on it; 3) and induces reasonable reliance by the promisee [Defendants]; 4) of a definite and substantial nature; 5) in a way where injustice can be avoided only be enforcement of the promise.”
Holding. The Court granted Lender’s motion summary judgment. The Defendants have appealed the decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. I will follow-up as warranted.
The Court reasoned that the balance statement simply did not create a promise to reinstate the loan and waive prior defaults. “Without a promise, promissory estoppel fails from the start.” Moreover, there was no evidence that Lender sent the balance statement with the expectation that Defendants would rely on it as they did. For good measure, the Court also noted that the Defendants did not meet the payment deadline in the balance statement anyway.
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I represent parties involved in disputes arising out of loans that are in default. If you need assistance with a similar matter, please call me at 317-639-6151 or email me at [email protected] Also, don’t forget that you can follow me on Twitter @JohnDWaller or on LinkedIn, or you can subscribe to posts via RSS or email as noted on my home page.