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Estate of Lodermeier v. Timmons

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 12, 2018

ESTATE OF LUCAS LODERMEIER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
JOHN L. TIMMONS, Defendant-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Kurt L. Wilke, Judge.

         The estate of Lucas Lodermeier appeals a directed verdict in a legal-malpractice claim. AFFIRMED.

          Andrew J. Zbaracki of Newbrough Law Firm, LLP, Ames, for appellant.

          David L. Brown and Tyler R. Smith of Hansen, McClintock & Riley, Des Moines, for appellee.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         The estate of Lucas Lodermeier (Lodermeier) appeals a directed verdict in a legal malpractice claim against John Timmons. Because we find no evidence of the amount of collectability against the initial defendant to support damages in the legal malpractice claim, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On October 8, 2010, Lucas Lodermeier was injured in an accident for which he was not at fault. Lodermeier suffered some scrapes, and the other driver died. Lodermeier was reluctant to return to truck driving and did not work for six months. He met with attorney Timmons for representation in a suit to recover for injuries arising from the accident.

         On October 9, 2012, Timmons advised Lodermeier by letter Timmons had failed to file the lawsuit within the two-year statute of limitations. On October 16, 2015, Lodermeier brought suit against Timmons for legal malpractice.[1]Lodermeier made no discovery requests from Timmons.

         A jury trial was held December 5, 2017. Lodermeier presented testimony from Lodermeier's widow, who had been engaged to him at the time of the accident, the October 2012 letter from Timmons, tax returns, and medical evaluations. At the close of Lodermeier's case, Timmons moved for a directed verdict claiming negligence, causation, and damages had not been proven and there was no evidence of collectability. The court dismissed the case finding "no evidence of collectability of this claim against the initial defendant." Lodermeier appeals.

         II. Standard of Review

         "We review a ruling on a motion for a directed verdict for correction of errors at law." Stender v. Blessum, 897 N.W.2d 491, 501 (Iowa 2017). "In reviewing the grant of a motion for a directed verdict, the court must determine whether reasonable minds could differ on the issue presented; if so, the grant was inappropriate." Royal Indem. Co. v. Factory Mut. Ins. Co., 786 N.W.2d 839, 849 (Iowa 2010). "We 'view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and take into consideration all reasonable inferences that could be fairly made by the jury.'" Ludman v. Davenport Assumption High Sch., 895 N.W.2d 902, 909 (Iowa 2017) (quoting Pavone v. Kirke, 801 N.W.2d 477, 487 (Iowa 2011)).

         III. ...


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