Ferrari produces the Ferrari 375 plus, reportedly the fastest car of its day. The company made just six of these. Two were destroyed in races in 1954. Only four are in existence today, all owned by private collectors. They are serial numbers 0384AM, 0392AM, 0396AM, 0398TF.
American race car driver James Kimberly, from Chicago, Illinois, purchases the 0384AM. When the car arrives in the United States, Kimberly has the Ferrari engine removed and replaces it with a Chevrolet V8 engine. The car races in 1955 with the Chevy engine.
Karl Kleve of Cincinnati, Ohio, buys the car (serial number 0384AM) in damaged condition and without the engine for $2,500 from Kimberly.
The burned-out chassis of the Ferrari is stolen from Kleve’s property in Westwood, a Cincinnati suburb.
Kleve reports the theft of the car to the Green Township Police Department and the FBI.
Sometime between 1985-89, the stolen car is transported to Atlanta, then to Belgium through a good faith purchase by L’Exception Automobile, a Belgian auto trader. Belgian authorities seize the car in customs in 1989, investigate its ownership and find that it had been reported stolen by Kleve.
After an investigation, the superintendent at the Brussels Criminal Investigation Department certifies in writing that the King’s Prosecutor in Brussels has lifted the seizure of the car and allows that the manager of L’Exception Automobile “may therefore have free use of this automobile.” The King’s Prosecutor is the highest law authority in Belgium, just under the Minister of Justice..
Jack Swaters and business partner Phillipe Lancksweert purchase the car from L’Exception Automobile.
March 6, 1997
Kleve signs a Letter of Authority claiming that he is the rightful owner of the car and granting authority to Mark Daniels of National Search Services to act on his behalf in investigating its status. Kleve also signs a Limited Power of Attorney appointing Daniels as his Attorney-in-Fact.
March 21, 1997
Daniels places a lien on the Ohio Certificate of Title, which lists Kleve as the car’s owner.
Kleve signs a Letter of Authority confirming that Daniels has the authority to act as his agent in negotiating a possible settlement for the Ferrari.
Aug. 26, 1999
Daniels cancels the lien on the Ohio Certificate of Title in order to transfer it for purposes of the Settlement Agreement with Swaters and Lancksweert.
Sept. 2, 1999
Kleve, Daniels, and Lancksweert – on behalf of Swaters – enter into a Settlement Agreement transferring all ownership rights to the car claimed by Kleve to Lancksweert and Swaters, including good and clear title to the car. At the time of the Agreement, Kleve was not in possession of the original engine. Kleve also claimed he was not in possession of the VIN plate or missing parts, saying they were lost or stolen. As part of the settlement:
Swaters designates Lancksweert as his agent to represent both partners in executing the Settlement Agreement with Kleve and Daniels and to accept the title of the car on behalf of the partnership.
Daniels signs a Bill of Sale transferring ”good and marketable title” of the Ferrari ”free and clear” of all liens and claims to Lancksweert.
Daniels, Kleve and Lancksweert all sign the Settlement Agreement and have their signatures notarized. The sale price hand-written into the Agreement is $625,000. The Settlement Agreement states that Daniels would deliver the Title, Power of Attorney, Letter of Authority, Lien Release, Bill of Sale and a letter certifying the release of the theft Status of the car to Lancksweert within two days of notice that the escrow amount of $625,000 was deposited by Swaters and Lancksweert. This was done. Swaters is in possession of those documents.
At Daniel’s request, checks are written to Karl Kleve and Mark Daniels ($400,000) and National Search Services ($225,000) from the Fiduciary Trust Company International. Swaters has copies of the checks. He also has a copy of the cashed $400,000 check.
Daniels, after receiving the money, did execute all required tasks and documents through the escrow process.
Dec. 24, 2003
Kleve passes away at the age of 90.
Lancksweert sells his ownership interest in the Ferrari to Swaters, who becomes sole owner of the car.
Aug. 3, 2005
After learning that Kristine Kleve Lawson, Kleve’s daughter and administrator of his estate, plans to auction off parts from the Ferrari – in addition to other cars and car parts – Florence Swaters, Jack’s daughter and business representative, hires an attorney to write Lawson to inform her of the Settlement Agreement signed in 1999 and provides her with copies of the documents signed by her father. The attorney asks “when and where” the Swaters may collect the remaining parts of the car without interfering with the auction. The lawyer receives no response.
Aug. 15, 2005
Kruse International issues a press release saying that an auction of Karl Kleve’s estate is to take place Aug. 29, 2005. The Ferrari parts are not listed.
Oct. 18, 2006
Lawson obtains a duplicate title to the car in her father’s name.
Oct. 27, 2006
Lawson submits an application to the probate court in her father’s estate stating that she is in possession of the car and asks for permission from the probate court to sell or transfer the car.
Nov. 30, 2006
Lawson transfers the duplicate title to herself.
Feb. 12, 2010
Florence and Jacques Swaters file a complaint in the Hamilton County Court of Pleas against Lawson and two unknown beneficiaries citing – among other complaints – a breach of contract because Kleve was required to transfer the entire vehicle and good, clear title to Lancksweert/Swaters in September 1999. It asks the court for a temporary restraining order against Lawson and an order preventing her from transferring any of the documents or parts while the case is ongoing.
Feb. 25, 2010
Lawson signs a Sales Agreement and Option Agreement with Joe Ford selling and conveying to him a 20% interest in her title, the parts she possesses, “story rights” and an option to buy a 50% interest in her title, parts and “story.”
Feb. 26, 2010
The court grants Swaters’ request for a temporary restraining order against Lawson following a hearing.
March 18, 2010
Lawson files two motions asking the court to dismiss Swaters’ claims against her.
March 29, 2010
Swaters responds to Lawson’s motions.
April 8, 2010
Joe Ford becomes a defendant in the case.
April 23, 2010
The Swaters, Lawson and Ford agree to maintain the “status quo” of all documents, parts and the vehicle while the case is ongoing.
May 4, 2010
Ford files a motion requesting that the court order Swaters to ship the car to Cincinnati, Ohio.
May 17, 2010
Swaters responds to Ford’s motion.
June 23, 2010:
Swaters files a motion for partial summary judgment which is still pending.
June 25, 2010
The court holds a hearing on all pending motions except the Swaters’ motion for summary judgment.
Sept. 14, 2010
The court denies Lawson’s motions for dismissal and denies Ford’s request to bring the car to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Sept. 30, 2010
The court holds a case management conference and sets a date for trial.