Hovde v. ISLA Development LLC, No. 21-2894 (7th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Riegel, seeking to build a condominium development in Isla Mujeres, formed ISLA and borrowed millions of dollars from the Hovdes. The project failed. More than 10 years later, the Hovdes sued ISLA and Riegel.
The district court granted the defendants summary judgment on the claim based on the Mortgage Note, citing the 10-year limitations period, and later holding that the limitations defense could be asserted against Riegel as the guarantor. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. An acceleration clause provided that if a Default occurred, the outstanding unpaid principal and interest would automatically become immediately due, triggering the 10-year limitations period. One such “Default” was an “Act of Bankruptcy,” defined to include admitting in writing the inability to pay debts as they mature. Two emails sent by Riegel to the Hovdes constituted an admission in writing of inability to pay debts: an August 7, 2008 email, asking for an advance to pay a tax bill, and a subsequent email indicating that all construction workers had been suspended. The language does not require actual insolvency; it merely requires an admission of an inability to pay the debts, whether or not true. The terms “continuing, absolute, and unconditional” are terms of art when used in guarantees and do not waive the limitations defense.