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Quality Egg, L.L.C. v. Ranch

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 17, 2017

QUALITY EGG, L.L.C., Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
HICKMAN'S EGG RANCH, Defendant-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Wright County, Christopher C. Foy, Judge.

         Quality Egg, L.L.C. challenges the admission of an exhibit summarizing damages. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

          G.A. Cady III of Cady & Rosenberg Law Firm, P.L.C., Hampton, for appellant.

          Robert Malloy and Lynn Collins Seaba of Malloy Law Firm, LLP, Goldfield, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Vaitheswaran, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, Judge.

         We must decide whether an exhibit summarizing damages was properly admitted.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Iowa egg producer Quality Egg, L.L.C. sold eggs to Hickman's Egg Ranch, Inc. Quality Egg sued Hickman's for money "due and owing" on an open account. Hickman's counterclaimed for breach of contract based on a recall of eggs due to salmonella contamination.

         At trial, Hickman's chief financial officer testified its damages stemmed from credits they had to give the Safeway grocery chain. The CFO offered a summary exhibit, Exhibit RR, and testified, "It's our calculation on what the damages from Safeway are." Quality Egg objected to admission of the exhibit on the ground that the underlying documents on which the summary was based were never received by counsel, the summary lacked a proper foundation, the summary constituted hearsay evidence, and the summary violated the best evidence rule. After confirming counsel received Exhibit RR in discovery, the district court overruled the objection and admitted the document.

         According to Exhibit RR, Hickman's damages on its counterclaim totaled $31, 322.97. The jury awarded Hickman's $31, 322.97.

         Quality Egg moved for a new trial and for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The district court rejected Quality Egg's renewed challenge to the admission of Exhibit RR, reasoning that the exhibit "was not offered for the purpose of proving the damages sustained by customers of Defendant as a result of the egg recall" but "was offered to show the amounts that Defendant paid (or credited) its customers to keep their business after the egg recall." Alternatively, the court stated, "Even if the Court erred in admitting Exhibit RR, the other evidence presented by Defendant was sufficient to withstand Plaintiff's motion for directed verdict." The court denied this portion of Quality Egg's motion.[1] Quality Egg appealed.

         II. Admissibility of Summary Exhibit

         A. ...


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