from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Susan
K. Christensen, Judge.
defendant appeals from the judgment entered against him for
tortious interference with a contract.
R. Bergantzel, Council Bluffs, for appellant.
A. Simons of Simons Law Firm, P.L.C., West Des Moines, for
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.
Erickson appeals from the judgment entered against him for
tortious interference with a contract after a trial to the
court. Erickson challenges some of the district court's
evidentiary rulings and the court's determination that he
intentionally interfered with the contract between plaintiff
G-Force Hauling, L.L.C. (G-Force) and Menards, Inc.. Erickson
also argues G-Force failed to mitigate its damages and asks
for an award of appellate attorney fees.
Background Facts and Procedure.
April 18, 2011, Kevin Gowens, through his business G-Force,
entered into a contract with Menards to deliver goods
purchased from the Menards store located in Council Bluffs to
Menards's customers. G-Force signed a new contract each
calendar year it continued to make deliveries for Menards,
including a contract for the year of 2013. G-Force did not
sign a contract for 2014.
the contract, G-Force received compensation based on mileage
and handling charges and was eligible two bonus payments. The
bonus payments included a "delivery bonus" and a
"retention bonus." The delivery bonus equaled one
half of one percent of the net sales price of merchandise
G-Force delivered and was paid periodically, as the
deliveries were invoiced. The retention bonus also equaled
one half of one percent of the net sales price of the
merchandise G-Force delivered, and it was paid in the
February following the delivery year for all deliveries made
between January 1 and December 31 but only if the hauler made
deliveries for Menards through December 31 of the preceding
year. G-Force received the retention bonus for each year it
contracted with Menards except for the 2013 contract year.
August 24, 2013, Erickson began working for G-Force. Erickson
made deliveries for G-Force under G-Force's contract with
Menards; he made his last delivery for G-Force in November
2013. During the time he worked for G-Force, Erickson and
Gowens discussed the hauling contract between G-Force and
Menards. Specifically, the two discussed the details of the
2013, to make deliveries, G-Force utilized a semi-truck with
a Moffett (a truck-mounted forklift), which was attached to
the trailer of the semi-truck with chains. The Moffett was
used to load and unload the truck. Specifically fit chains
were necessary to secure the Moffett to the semi. This was
the only vehicle G-Force had registered with the department
of transportation (DOT) to make commercial deliveries.
before December 15, 2013, G-Force's Moffett ceased
functioning. In order to continue making deliveries, G-Force
rented a Moffett from Heartland Transport; G-Force continued
to use its own truck and trailer with the rented Moffett, and
it attached the rented Moffett to the trailer using its own
chains, which were bolted to its trailer.
December 15, Erickson purchased from Heartland Transport a
flatbed semi-trailer and a Moffett (the same one G-Force had
been renting) with all accessories (including chains and
restraints). The next day, Erickson went to the Council Bluff
Menards-where G-Force kept its truck-and removed the
purchased Moffett ...