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Bettenhausen estate wins appeal against Godby

January 24, 2008

The brother of former race team owner Tony Bettenhausen, who died in a plane crash nearly eight years ago, has won an appeal of a court case involving ownership of a related business.

The Indiana Court of Appeals this month reversed a previous decision awarding business associate Thomas Godby full ownership of 109 Gasoline Alley LLC. Godby operates Godby Heating & Air Conditioning LLC.

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09 Gasoline Alley owns a building at the address, which is south of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Godby Heating & Air Conditioning is housed in the building.

Godby and Bettenhausen formed the company in 1994, each with a 50-percent stake. As stipulated by the operating agreement, following Bettenhausen's death in February 2000, his estate was required to sell his interest back to the company.

Godby sued in June 2005 seeking to enforce 109 Gasoline Alley's buy-sell agreement, but Bettenhausen's brother, Merle, countered that the claim was filed too late. A Marion Superior Court judge awarded Godby ownership.

Merle appealed, citing state code that requires a petition of ownership in a property to be filed within five months after the date of the first published notice to creditors. The appellate court agreed. Its reversal of the trial court's decision leaves Godby and Merle each with 50-percent ownership.

Following Tony Bettenhausen's death, Godby and his wife, Jenny, became guardians of the Bettenhausens' youngest daughter, Taryn.

Also killed in the crash were Bettenhausen's wife, Shirley, and their close friends Russ Roberts, a minority owner of the race team and president of Friendly Foods, and Larry Rangel, owner of La Margarita restaurant and a caterer for the team.

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