from the Iowa District Court for Wright County, Christopher
C. Foy, Judge.
appeals a jury verdict finding it was not entitled to recover
from defendant on an open account. REVERSED AND
Cady III and Megan R. Rosenberg of Cady & Rosenberg Law
Firm, P.L.C., Hampton, for appellant.
Malloy and Justin L. Sullivan of Malloy Law Firm, LLP, West
Des Moines, for appellee.
by Vogel, C.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Danilson, S.J. [*]
2002, Quality Egg, LLC (Quality Egg), entered into an oral
contract with Hickman's Egg Ranch, Inc. (Hickman's)
to sell eggs. In April 2008, Quality Egg received a check
from Hickman's that it determined was "short
pay." In March 2014, Quality Egg brought suit against
Hickman's, asserting Hickman's was due and owing upon
an open account. Hickman's responded by asserting various
defenses. After a 2017 trial, the jury returned a verdict
against Quality Egg's claim. We find the admission of
oral testimony by Hickman's did not violate the statute
of frauds. However, we reverse and remand for a new trial
based on the district court's failure to include jury
instructions pertaining to Quality Egg's open-account
Background Facts and Proceedings
Egg,  an Iowa egg producer, sold shell eggs to
Hickman's. The two companies entered into an oral
contract in 2002, and the price for the eggs adjusted
frequently using a pre-agreed formula involving the national
Urner Barry Market. The business relationship continued
smoothly until April 2008, when Quality Egg received a check
from Hickman's it determined to be far short of the
amount due on the account. The check included "pallet
adjustments" as a credit to the amount Hickman's
owed Quality Egg, and the adjustments were in the amount of
$579, 126.39. Despite this billing discrepancy, the parties
continued to do business together until 2011. On March 31,
2014, Quality Egg filed a petition against Hickman's
seeking to recover the amount due on the account. The
petition asserted Hickman's "purchased eggs from
[Quality Egg] upon open account" and Hickman's was
"presently due and owing upon said account."
Hickman's filed an answer (and a counterclaim) on June 2,
asserting it "purchased some eggs from [Quality Egg]
pursuant to [an] oral contract; however [Hickman's]
denies that [Quality Egg's] petition accurately reflects
the transaction between the parties."
first jury trial was held in May 2016, and judgment was
entered in favor of Hickman's. Quality Egg appealed to our
court on an evidentiary issue, and we reversed and remanded
for a new trial. The second jury trial was held on October
3 to 6, 2017. The jury returned a verdict against Quality
Egg's open-account claim, and Quality Egg appeals.
Standard of Review
district court's ruling on a jury instruction will not be
disturbed absent an abuse of discretion. We will not find an
abuse of discretion unless it was exercised on grounds or for
reasons clearly untenable or to an extent clearly
unreasonable." McIntire v. Muller, 522 N.W.2d
329, 332 (Iowa Ct. App. 1994) (citations omitted). In
addition, "[w]e review a decision by the district court
to admit oral evidence of a contract under an exception to
the statute of frauds for corrections of errors at law."
Kolkman v. Roth, 656 N.W.2d 148, 151 (Iowa 2003).
Egg asserts the district court failed to instruct the jury on
an open account, depriving the jury of the ability to decide
the specific elements of its open-account claim. It claims
such failure is reversible error because the only
instructions given were as to a breach of
contract-appropriate only for the totally separate
counterclaim of Hickman's. Hickman's responds that
instructing the jury on an open account was unnecessary, as
the "factors for an open account and breach of contract
[are] nearly identical."
Parties to lawsuits are entitled to have their legal theories
submitted to a jury if they are supported by the pleadings
and substantial evidence in the record. Iowa law requires a
court to give a requested jury instruction if it correctly
states the applicable law and is not embodied in other
Sonnek v. Warren, 522 N.W.2d 45, 47 (Iowa 1994)
(internal citations omitted). "Parties are not, however,
entitled to any particular instruction if the issue is
adequately covered in other instructions."
Hutchinson v. Broadlawns Med. Ctr., 459 N.W.2d 273,
275 (Iowa 1990). "Jury instructions are to be considered
as a whole and, as long as the jury has not been misled,
there is no reversible error." Wilco ...