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Inc. v. Mangum

Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, Division IV

December 15, 2016

BRYAN'S CAR CORNER, INC., an Oklahoma corporation d/b/a BRYAN'S CAR CORNER III, Petitioner/Appellee,
v.
JACKY MANGUM, d/b/a MANGUM AUTO SALES, Respondent/Appellant, and PACER COOK, Respondent.

          Mandate Issued: 02/23/2017

         APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF STEPHENS COUNTY, OKLAHOMA HONORABLE JOE H. ENOS, TRIAL JUDGE

          Joshua A. Creekmore, LEACH & SULLIVAN, A Limited Liability Partnership, Duncan, Oklahoma, for Petitioner/Appellee

          David W. Hammond, HAMMOND, ARCHER & KEE, P.L.L.C., Duncan, Oklahoma, for Respondent/Appellant

          Pacer Cook, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Pro Se

          JOHN F. FISCHER, JUDGE

         ¶1 Jacky Mangum, d/b/a Mangum Auto Sales, appeals a judgment in favor of Bryan's Car Corner, Inc., requiring Mangum to release his lien on a 2008 GMC truck that Bryan's took in trade as part of an automobile sale transaction with Pacer Cook. Mangum had previously sold the truck to Cook and retained a security interest in the truck to secure repayment of the amount of the purchase price he financed for Cook. The dispute involves the amount of the payoff due Mangum for the truck. Bryan's tendered the amount stated in a written payoff statement from Mangum's employee. Mangum refused this amount and refused to release his lien, contending that the amount tendered was less than the balance due on Cook's loan. The case was tried to the district court. Judgment was entered in favor of Bryan's ordering Mangum to release its lien. Although the amount stated in Mangum's payoff statement was not the full amount Cook owed to Mangum, the district court found that Bryan's tendered the amount in the payoff statement before that amount was withdrawn. Consequently, Bryan's tender of the amount in Mangum's payoff statement was sufficient to discharge Mangum's lien, and we affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 In July of 2011, Cook bought a 2008 GMC truck from Mangum. As part of that transaction, Mangum agreed to finance approximately $11, 000 of the purchase price. Cook signed a promissory note agreeing to repay the loan amount at $401.47 per month. Cook also granted Mangum a security interest in the truck to secure repayment of the loan. Mangum perfected his security interest on July 20, 2011.

         ¶3 On October 5, 2011, Cook went to Bryan's location to purchase a 2006 Infiniti. Cook traded his truck to Bryan's as partial payment for the Infiniti. To document this transaction, Bryan's salesman prepared a Retail Installment Sales Contract dated October 5, 2011, and used $10, 750 as the estimated payoff amount for Cook's truck. The Retail Installment Sales Contract was accompanied by a Motor Vehicle Delivery Agreement. The Agreement stated that the Sales Contract was subject to Cook's ability to obtain financing. The Agreement contained other contingencies and obligations of the parties and was also used to govern the "Spot Delivery" of the Infiniti being purchased by Cook. Cook signed the Sales Contract and Delivery Agreement, began the process of obtaining financing, turned over possession of his truck to Bryan's and left in the Infiniti.

         ¶4 On October 6, 2011, Crystal Gooden, a Mangum employee, faxed a statement to Bryan's, which showed a payoff amount of $8, 865.44. The document provided that the amount quoted was good for ten days. At about the same time, Bryan's owner inspected the truck and discovered undisclosed damage that diminished the value of Cook's trade-in by approximately $2, 000. Bryan's contacted Cook to renegotiate the terms of the October 5 contract, and Cook agreed to the new terms and signed a new contract with Bryan's on October 6. The second contract used the $8, 865.44 figure Gooden had provided as the payoff amount for Cook's trade-in and increased the purchase price of the Infiniti by approximately $1, 900.

         ¶5 Around October 16, 2011, Gooden called Bryan's to check on the status of the Cook transaction. She was told that additional documentation had been requested by Cook's lender and that the financing had not yet been approved. Gooden was told that Bryan's had just received the additional documents from Cook and anticipated that the funding should be approved "in the next week." Gooden did not object or withdraw the original ten-day payoff offer. Bryan Bingham, Bryan's owner, testified that it was not unusual for a transaction to be completed outside the customary ten-day payoff period. Therefore, when the lender notified Bryan's on October 19, 2011, that Cook's financing had been approved, a Bryan's employee called Gooden and requested an updated payoff statement for Cook's trade-in to cover any additional interest due because of the delay in obtaining financing. This time, the payoff amount Gooden provided to Bryan's was approximately $1, 900 higher than the amount stated in her October 6 fax. When asked in a second phone call why there was such a difference, Gooden stated she did not know the reason but would find out. Gooden could not remember the date of these phone calls, but Bryan Bingham testified that he learned of the discrepancy on October 21. Gooden testified that after the second phone call, she investigated the matter and turned over the results to Mangum, who instructed her not to accept any check or correspondence from Bryan's. Gooden did return Bryan's call or otherwise explain the difference between the two payoff figures. On October 24, 2011, Cook's lender deposited $8, 865.64 in Bryan's bank account to cover the cost of Cook's trade-in. Bryan's mailed Mangum a check for that amount on October 28, 2011. Mangum refused the check.

         ¶6 When Bryan's and Mangum were unable to resolve the dispute, Bryan's filed this action to compel Mangum to release its lien on the 2008 truck. All other claims and cross-claims between the parties were previously resolved and the lien issue was tried to the district court without a jury. The district court found that the October 6, 2011 payoff statement did not state the full amount owed by Cook to Mangum. Nonetheless, the court found that Bryan's had tendered the $8, 865.44 before Mangum withdrew the offer to release his lien on payment of that amount. The district court ordered Mangum to release its lien on retender by Bryan's of the $8, 865.44. In a subsequent proceeding, the district court awarded Bryan's $9, 750.00 in attorney fees. Mangum appeals both orders.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶7 In an action at law tried without a jury, "the trial judge's determination of the facts bears the force of a verdict rendered by a well-instructed jury. It must be affirmed if supported by any competent evidence." Bradley v. Clark, 1990 OK 73, ¶ 3, 804 P.2d 425.

[T]he sufficiency of the evidence to sustain a judgment in an action of legal cognizance is determined by an appellate court in light of the evidence tending to support it, together with every reasonable inference deducible therefrom, rejecting all ...

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