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JM 48 LLC v. Heartland CO-OP

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 18, 2018

JM 48, LLC, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
HEARTLAND CO-OP, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeffrey D. Farrell, Judge.

         Heartland Co-op appeals a district court ruling denying its motion to compel arbitration.

          John F. Lorentzen of Nyemaster Goode, P.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Gina C. Badding of Neu, Minnich, Comito, Halbur, Neu & Badding, P.C., Carroll, for appellee.

          Heard by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.

          MULLINS, Judge.

         Heartland Co-op (Heartland) appeals a district court ruling denying its motion to compel arbitration. Heartland contends the parties entered into an arbitration agreement that is enforceable under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) as well as the Iowa Arbitration Act (IAA) and, therefore, the district court erred in denying its motion to compel arbitration. Heartland alternatively argues an arbitration agreement should be enforced through the doctrine of promissory estoppel.[1]

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         The following facts are generally undisputed. In May 2010, Gerald Murphy, on behalf of JM 48, LLC (JM), signed a contract authorization form with Heartland. The authorization form provided:

I the customer grant the following individuals authorization to enter into grain contracts on behalf of the account name and number stated above, including credit sale contracts and warehouse receipts.
. . . .
Contracting of Grain: I represent to Heartland on behalf of the Customer that: (1) we routinely sell grain to elevator; (2) we have the particular skills and knowledge of grain trading practices that enable us to understand the terms of grain sale contracts enter into; (3) we are a merchant with respect to the sale of grain; and (4) each of the individuals names above is authorized to enter into grain contracts with Heartland on our behalf. National Grain and feed Association [(NGFA)] Rules apply to all contracts.
I understand that it is my responsibility to notify Heartland Co-op of any changes in ...

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