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Stamper v. Community Financial Services

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

June 1, 2018

RONNY L. STAMPER APPELLANT
v.
COMMUNITY FINANCIAL SERVICES, F/D/B/A BANK OF BENTON APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM MARSHALL CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE JAMES T. JAMESON, JUDGE ACTION NO. 16-CI-00023

          BRIEFS FOR APPELLANT: Robert L. Prince Benton, Kentucky

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Stanley K. Spees Paducah, Kentucky

          BEFORE: COMBS, JONES, AND TAYLOR, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          JONES, JUDGE

         Appellant, Ronny L. Stamper, appeals from the Marshall Circuit Court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Appellee, Community Financial Services (the "Bank"). On appeal, Stamper asserts that the circuit court should have denied the Bank's summary judgment because the Bank's action against him is time-barred. Following review of the record and applicable law, we reverse the circuit court and remand with instructions for the circuit court to dismiss the Bank's civil action against Stamper.

         I. Background

         In April of 1997, Stamper executed a note (the "Note") and security agreement evidencing a loan by the Bank in the principal amount of $18, 408.18. Stamper pledged his 1995 Chevrolet Blazer as collateral. The Note had a stated maturity date of April 25, 2002. The following provision was included under a heading entitled "Lender's Rights": "Upon default, then, at the option of Lender and without notice or demand, this Agreement may be declared and thereupon immediately will become due and payable."

         In April 2000, Stamper defaulted on his loan and the Blazer was repossessed. Following sale of the Blazer, the Bank sent Stamper a letter on August 25, 2000, which stated in pertinent part as follows:

Please be advised that the vehicle pledged for security on your note has been sold to the highest bidder at $2, 190.00. Therefore, this balance has been applied to your note.
Your balance is now $9, 703.16. This balance must either be paid in full or have a satisfactory repayment schedule established by September 15, 2000. Failure to meet this obligation will result in immediate legal action against you.

         When Stamper did not respond, the Bank sent Stamper a second letter dated June 5, 2001. This letter again referenced Stamper's remaining balance on the loan and requested that Stamper contact the Bank to work out a suitable repayment plan. The June 5th letter indicated that, if the Bank did not hear from Stamper, it would turn over his account to an attorney or a collection agency. There is nothing indicating that Stamper responded to the June 5, 2001, letter.

         On April 2, 2008, counsel for the Bank also wrote to Stamper. In this letter, counsel notified Stamper that he must satisfy the balance on his loan, in full, within thirty days. A letter dated April 27, 2010, from the Bank to Stamper and his wife, Kimberly Stamper, indicates that Stamper had expressed some interest in working out a payment plan on the loan; however, there is no indication that any payments were ever made.

         The next communication of record between the parties occurred in January of 2016, when the Bank brought this suit against Stamper to collect on Stamper's debt. On March 7, 2016, the Bank filed a motion for default judgment against Stamper, as Stamper had failed to respond to the Bank's complaint in a timely manner. On March 10, 2016, Stamper filed a motion to file a late answer. In that motion, Stamper stated that the Bank's claim against him was time-barred.[1]R. 13. The circuit court granted Stamper leave to file a later answer on March 22, 2016. In his answer, which was deemed filed as of March 10, 2016, Stamper admitted that he had defaulted ...


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