Always Read the Fine Print

September 29, 2015

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Fine print is everywhere. It’s on the bottom of credit card applications, in the terms of use section of almost every computer program available, and on the bottom of practically every contract you sign. It’s easy to overlook or ignore fine print in favor of simply signing whatever document requires it. However, one should always read the fine print and read it carefully.

That lesson was reiterated recently in the Indiana Court of Appeals decision in Smith v. M&M Pump & Supply, Inc., 28A01-1502-CC-57 (Ind. Ct. App. August 6, 2015). In that case, a coal mine superintendent signed a creditor agreement with a supply company. A portion of that agreement stated that he would act as a guarantor in the event that the mining company breached the contract. The superintendent argued that the trial court improperly rejected his argument that he did not know that he was signing a document as a guarantor of the equipment being provided. However, the Court of Appeals held that, under Indiana law, a person is presumed to understand the document which he signs and cannot be released from those terms for his failure to read the document.

To put it more directly, if an individual signs a document, that person is generally bound by it and the terms therein regardless of whether you actually read or understand the document. Those Hoosiers who are considering serious purchases such as a car or a house should bear that in mind when they are poring over documents, sometimes lengthy and tedious, related to those purchases.

If you have questions concerning your civil, constitutional, or criminal rights or believe your rights have been violated, contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP today at (317) 857-0160.