from the Iowa District Court for Iowa County, Ian K.
appeals from the trial court's ruling finding plaintiff
had converted the defendant's personal property and
awarding damages in the amount of $64, 990.23. AFFIRMED IN
PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.
W. Pilkington of Nidey, Erdahl, Tindal & Fischer, P.L.C.,
Marengo, for appellant.
Jennifer L. Zahradnik of Kollmorgen, Schlue & Zahradnik,
P.C., Belle Plaine, for appellee.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., Tabor, J., and Blane, S.J.
Heal appeals from the district court's ruling, following
a bench trial, in favor of the defendant, Brian Anderson.
Heal maintains the district court erred by finding he had
wrongfully converted Anderson's personal property while
Heal had a temporary injunction against Anderson.
Additionally, he maintains the district court abused its
discretion in permitting a lay witness to testify to the
value of salvage vehicles on the business premises.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
owned a parcel of land in Homestead, which had previously
been used as a vehicle salvage yard. Anderson approached Heal
about buying the parcel. Anderson was unable to meet
Heal's asking price, and the parties entered into an oral
contract to have Anderson run the business instead.
parties dispute the terms of the agreement. Heal testified he
had complete ownership of the business and he hired Anderson
to run it; he stated he provided the building, land, and
initial inventory, and was to receive 51% of the profits.
Meanwhile, Anderson would run the day-to-day operations and
receive the other 49% of the profits. In contrast, Anderson
testified he and Heal agreed Heal would allow Anderson to use
the land and buildings but Heal's inventory was supposed
to be crushed and scrapped. Anderson claimed he was the sole
proprietor of the business, named AAA Auto Recyclers-noting
the permits and bank account were in only his name and the
name of the business-and he was to obtain his own inventory.
At the end of the first year, Heal and Anderson were to split
the profits of the business in half, and then the two parties
would discuss the option of Anderson buying the land and
buildings on contract. In its written ruling, the district
court found Anderson's "assertions as to the details
of the agreement to be highly credible and supported by other
received keys to the property on October 31, 2010. He spent
approximately two months cleaning the property and getting it
ready to open the business. In doing so, he cleaned up trash,
made the buildings operational (by installing heat and fixing
the plumbing), and brought in or fixed the tools and
equipment necessary to run the business.
opened the business on January 1, 2011. His girlfriend
assisted by keeping the books for the business. Because
Anderson did not want to quit his full-time job until the
business was self-sufficient, he initially worked at the
salvage yard part-time, and Josh Detling was brought on to
manage day-to-day operations.
used his own resources to build the inventory for the
business- some vehicles he brought with him and others he
purchased. Anderson kept separate records for parts that were
sold off cars he brought in and those that came off
Heal's cars that were still sitting on the property.
However, the profits from both were re-invested into the
business; Anderson did not pay himself a salary.
and Anderson had a good working relationship until August
2011. The relationship then broke down, and AAA ceased
operations shortly thereafter. Specifically, in early August,
Anderson sold a 2004 Ford F-150 he purchased with his own
money and for his own personal use. He sold the truck for
$7000. Anderson intended to deposit this cash, along with
$280 in cash from part sales and checks written to AAA, in
the business's bank account. Heal happened to be on the
property that day, and he offered to deposit the checks and
cash so it would not have to remain on the premises
throughout the business day. Heal deposited the checks, but
he kept the $7280 in cash. Once Anderson realized what he had