In GMAC, Inc. v. Branham, 2013 WL 2298349 (Ohio App. 6 Dist. 2013), the Ohio Court of Appeal reversed a trial court’s conclusion that an automobile finance company had not established that it was the assignee of the vehicle lease (for collection purposes) because it did not produce its Dealer Agreement with the Dealer.
In support of its first assignment of error, appellant asserts that even if the trial court properly found that the assignment in the lease was ambiguous, sufficient evidence was presented at trial to negate any ambiguity and demonstrate that GMAC was the assignee and thus had standing to enforce the terms of the lease. ¶ . . .In the case before us, the trial court found that a valid assignment existed in the agreement but that the identity of the assignee was unclear. Apparently, the trial court believed that the identity of the assignee could not be established without reference to the “Lease Plan Dealer Agreement” referenced in the agreement, and that GMAC therefore did not have standing to bring the case. ¶ The trial court was required to read the contract in its entirety. We find that doing so leads to the conclusion that GMAC is the assignee under the lease. The assignment at the bottom of the page, signed by a Sharpnack representative, indicates that Sharpnack assigned its rights under the lease: “Lessor assigns all right, title, and interest in this lease to the party identified in this lease as the intended assignee * * *.” This language indicates that the assignee must be identified in the lease, not in another separate agreement. We again reference the provision located at the top of the lease agreement. ¶ Despite the fact that a very small portion of the “XX” mark on the lease agreement adjacent to the assignment to GMAC touches the box below referencing a possible assignment to “Central Originating Lease Trust,” there is not a single piece of evidence in the record indicating that “Central Originating Lease Trust” had any role whatsoever in the lease transaction giving rise to this matter. To the contrary, every indication in the record as supported by evidence admitted at trial points to an assignment of the lease to GMAC and GMAC’s continued relationship with Branham from the date the lease agreement was signed. It is undisputed that Branham made his payments to GMAC, that GMAC corresponded with Branham regarding the payment issues, and that GMAC repossessed the vehicle. ¶ On consideration of the foregoing, we find that the trial court’s finding is not supported by any competent, credible evidence. Accordingly, appellant’s first assignment of error is well-taken.