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Marlin Business Bank v. Stevens Auction Co.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 3, 2017

MARLIN BUSINESS BANK APPELLANT
v.
STEVENS AUCTION COMPANY AND JOHN D. STEVENS APPELLEES

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/28/2016

         MONROE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. JAMES SETH ANDREW POUNDS

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: M. REED MARTZ

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: P. NELSON SMITH JR.

          BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., CARLTON AND GREENLEE, JJ.

          GRIFFIS, P.J., FOR THE COURT:

         ¶1. Marlin Business Bank obtained a default judgment against John D. Stevens and Stevens Auction Company[1] in a Pennsylvania court. Marlin sought to enroll the foreign judgment in Monroe County. The circuit-court judge denied Marlin's motion to enroll the judgment. Marlin now appeals.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. John D. Stevens is the owner and operator of Stevens Auction Company, located in Aberdeen, Mississippi. Stevens entered into a contract with Security Depot, Inc., for the delivery, installation, and service of video-surveillance equipment on the auction premises. Security Depot, a Georgia-based company, presented Stevens with a lease agreement, entitled "work order." The work order detailed the equipment and provided the monetary terms of the lease. Pursuant to the terms, the sum of $217 was due at delivery, with payments of the same amount to be paid over the sixty-month lease term. The work order provided an option to purchase the equipment.

         ¶3. The work order contained a forum-selection clause. The clause, located under a section titled "controlling law, " provided that the laws of Georgia controlled any legal proceeding related to the agreement. Stevens signed the agreement and made its first payment to Security Depot on November 14, 2013.

         ¶4. On the day of installation, Security Depot presented Stevens with a second equipment- lease contract. The new contract was with Marlin, a third-party finance company. The new contract, entitled "Equipment Lease Contract for Leases under $100, 000, " also required Stevens to make sixty monthly payments of $217. The contract with Marlin also contained a forum-selection clause. The clause provided the following:

Personal Guarantee. I hereby personally and unconditionally guarantee all amounts owed by the leasing customer under the lease. . . . I agree the lessor may proceed against me separately from the leasing customer. . . . I agree that the lease and personal guaranty shall be governed by the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and any suit relating to the lease or personal guaranty shall be brought only in a state or federal court in Pennsylvania and I irrevocably consent and submit to the jurisdiction of such courts, and I waive trial by jury. I agree that my faxed signature shall be considered as good as my original signature and admissible in court as conclusive evidence of the personal guaranty.

         ¶5. Stevens signed the lease agreement with Marlin on November 21, 2013. Stevens then made its second payment to Security Depot on November 22, 2013.

         ¶6. Shortly after installation, the equipment malfunctioned. Stevens sought assistance from both Security Depot and Marlin. The equipment was never repaired, and Stevens ceased making ...


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