Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Anderson v. Anderson Tooling, Inc.

Supreme Court of Iowa

May 31, 2019

JEFFREY ANDERSON, Appellant,
v.
ANDERSON TOOLING, INC., DEAN E. ANDERSON, and CAROL A. ANDERSON, Appellees. ANDERSON TOOLING, INC., Appellee,
v.
LORI J. ANDERSON and FABRICATION AND CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC., Appellants.

          On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jefferson County, Myron L. Gookin, Judge.

         Appellants appeal from a judgment entered by the district court following a jury verdict. DECISION OF COURT OF APPEALS AFFIRMED IN PART AND VACATED IN PART; DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT AFFIRMED.

          Steven Gardner of Denefe, Gardner & Zingg, P.C., Ottumwa, for appellants.

          Steven E. Ballard and Abigail L. Brown of Leff Law Firm, L.L.P., Iowa City, for appellees.

          CADY, Chief Justice.

         In this appeal, we primarily consider whether a judgment for civil conspiracy was properly modified by the district court following a jury trial. The court of appeals found the jury instruction pertaining to the conspiracy did not permit judgment to be modified. On our review, we affirm and adopt the opinion of the court of appeals except on the issue of the conspiracy. We affirm the judgment of the district court.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Spouses Dean and Carol Anderson own and operate Anderson Tooling, Inc. (ATI). The company offers many services, including rigging. Rigging is the movement of heavy machinery from one location to another. In 2005, Dean hired his brother, Jeffrey Anderson (Jeff), to work as the company's general manager and chief financial officer. He also hired Jeff's wife, Lori, as ATI's bookkeeper.

         The couples met to discuss the terms of employment, but never completed a formal employment contract. Instead, Dean and Jeff made handwritten notes about the details discussed at the meeting. Generally, both sets of notes provided for Jeff's base salary at $52, 000, with a percentage of "profit" of twenty percent up to $200, 000 and thirty percent over $200, 000. Neither set of notes defined the word "profit." Jeff claims his notes represent a valid employment contract because both brothers initialed the document. Dean denies having initialed it.

         The lack of specificity in the agreement became the basis of a salary dispute between the brothers. In 2011, Jeff requested payments of his deferred compensation pursuant to the percentage split in the employment agreement. Dean and Carol denied the existence of a written agreement and refused to pay Jeff. They also claimed their definition of profit did not align with Jeff's.[1]

         While employed at ATI, Jeff formed an independent company named Fabrication & Construction Services Inc. (FabCon). FabCon's original purpose was to complete repair work on the building where ATI was located following flood damage. After this project, FabCon continued to operate and began providing rigging services, in competition with ATI. Upon learning of FabCon's rigging operations, Dean fired Jeff and Lori from ATI.

         A. Claims Filed.

         Jeff asserts he was terminated due to his request for payment of the deferred compensation. He commenced an action against Dean, Carol, and ATI alleging a violation of the Iowa Wage Payment Collection Law (IWPCL), breach of contract, tortious discharge, and interference with contractual relationships.

         Dean, Carol, and ATI filed a number of counterclaims. They filed a claim against Jeff for conversion, intentional interference with contracts, interference with a prospective business advantage, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets. Dean and Carol claimed Jeff used ATI's customer list and rate information to FabCon's benefit. They also claimed Jeff was stealing and mismanaging ATI funds.

         ATI sued Lori for breaching her fiduciary duty, claiming she diverted its funds to FabCon, Jeff, and herself. Additionally, ATI brought a claim against Lori and FabCon for conversion, intentional interference with contracts, interference with prospective business advantage, and conspiracy. These cases were consolidated for trial.

         B. District Court Proceedings.

         On May 13, 2015, these matters proceeded to a jury trial. After nearly two weeks of testimony, the jury was given two verdict forms with sixty-eight interrogatories and began deliberation. The first verdict form related to Jeff's claims against Dean, Carol, and ATI. The second verdict form related to the counterclaims against Jeff, Lori, and FabCon. On Jeff's claims, the jury concluded ATI did not violate the IWPCL and did not owe Jeff unpaid profit sharing or accrued vacation. The jury found no employment contract existed, thus ATI did not breach or intentionally interfere with Jeff's contract. It also concluded Dean and Carol did not act improperly as the company's directors.

         The jury did find that Jeff was an ATI employee and wrongfully discharged for pursing unpaid wages. It awarded him $89, 387.01 in lost wages, $5000 for emotional distress, and $52, 000 in punitive damages.

         On Dean and Carol's claims, the jury found Jeff breached his fiduciary duty and awarded them $436, 255.18 in damages. Moreover, it concluded Jeff intentionally and improperly interfered with ATI's prospective business relationships, awarding $336, 072.54 in damages. Damages against Jeff totaled $772, 297.72. The district court entered judgments in these amounts.

         The portion of the verdict form regarding the participation of Jeff, Lori, and FabCon in a conspiracy to harm ATI provided,

Q. Did Jeffery Anderson commit any of the wrongs of conversion, interference with a prospective business advantage, breach of fiduciary duty, or ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.