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It is axiomatic that the admission or exclusion of evidence is generally within the sound discretion of the trial court, and a reviewing court may reverse only upon a showing of an abuse of that discretion. In order to find an abuse of discretion, the appellate court must determine that the trial court's decision was unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable and not merely an error of law or judgment. In addition, while there is no definite rule as to how soon after a minor reaches majority he must exercise his privilege to disaffirm, it may be said in general that this must be done within a reasonable time thereafter considering the circumstances of the particular case.
Appellant Joseph Todd Muller, the debtor, and Tina Muller were brothers and sisters. In December 1989, they both signed a loan application with appellee CES Credit Union. The appellant’s sister was seeking a loan so that she could purchase appellant's car. The loan application indicated that the appellant's birth date was February 10, 1971, and indicated that he had an automobile loan with a bank that would be paid off if the loan to his sister was approved. Once the loan application was approved, both appellant and Tina Muller signed the loan contract. His sister signed the contract as the debtor, and appellant signed as a co-signor. However, the sister defaulted on her loan, the car was repossessed and sold at auction for $ 1,780, leaving a principal balance of $ 4,915 due on the loan. Subsequently, appellee filed a complaint against appellant and his sister to collect the principal balance with interests. In his answer, appellant alleged that on the date that he signed the loan contract, he was seventeen years of age and that, as a minor, lacked the legal capacity to sign the same. At trial, the collection manager testified that days after the loan application was submitted, the board rejected the application due to insufficient collateral and debt ratio. The court entered judgment in favor of appellee for the default on a car loan and appellant sought review.
Did the trial court err in ruling in favor of appellee credit union for the default on a car loan?
The court affirmed the judgment and held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it excluded evidence of the loan board's prior rejections of the appellant's earlier loan application since such a decision was not unreasonable, arbitrary, or unconscionable. The court found that the loan contract was signed by the appellant and his sister after the rejection of the loan. Moreover, the appellant did not attempt to disaffirm the loan until he was sued which was 14 years after he signed the loan. The court ruled that he remained mute as to his disaffirmance from his 18th birthday until such time. Hence, he could not subsequently assert that the loan contract was void because of his minority.