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Chadmark, LLC v. Bush

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 21, 2019

CHADMARK, LLC, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
KRISTIN BUSH, Defendant-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Michael D. Huppert, Judge.

         Trucking company appeals a district court's calculation of damages resulting from a motor vehicle accident.

          Jeffrey M. Lipman of Lipman Law Firm, P.C., West Des Moines, for appellant.

          Michael J. Moreland and Nicholas T. Maxwell of Harrison, Moreland, Webber, Simplot & Maxwell, P.C., Ottumwa, for appellee.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Greer, J., and Scott, S.J. [*]

          GREER, JUDGE.

         In a stipulated-liability motor vehicle accident case, the district court awarded loss-of-use damages to Chadmark, LLC resulting from damage to one of its trucks. The company appeals the court's calculation of damages and asserts it is also entitled to damages for out-of-pocket expenses to retrieve the replacement truck. We agree with the district court's calculation of loss-of-use damages but find additional damages for out-of-pocket expenses are appropriate. For that reason, we reverse and remand for entry of a new damage award.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         On July 23, 2015, Kristin Bush failed to yield at a stop sign in Polk County and her vehicle collided with a Chadmark dump truck. Bush admitted liability for the accident.

         Chadmark is a dump truck company that hauls dirt, rock, and sand in central Iowa. On the day of the accident, the damaged truck-identified as "Truck #10"- was working on hauling projects as part of a team of four Chadmark trucks. Because the truck was totaled, Chadmark could not use Truck #10 after the accident, and it eventually purchased a replacement truck in Texas.

         On October 12, Bush's insurer issued a check to Chadmark for $29, 049.68 to pay for the loss of use of Truck #10.[1] Chadmark at first rejected the check as "insufficient to address the actual loss incurred," but it later deposited the check, noting on the draft: "not accepted as final settlement."

         According to Chadmark's records, it operated without Truck #10 from the July 23 accident until September 24 when it began using the replacement truck. During this time frame, the other three trucks in the team continued hauling and generating revenue and expenses. Chad Larson, as the sole owner of Chadmark at the time of trial, testified Truck #10 and its driver would have continued hauling with the other three trucks had it not been involved in the accident. Larson offered that he also operates a Chadmark truck, but between the accident and retrieval of the replacement truck, Truck #10's regular driver drove Larson's truck and Larson stopped driving. Larson continued to receive his officer's salary from Chadmark during this period.

         In May 2017, Chadmark filed its petition claiming Bush was negligent and seeking damages. Chadmark provided its calculations for gross revenues, fuel costs, gross driver wages, and driver payroll expenses per day for the three remaining team trucks from July 23 to September 24. Related to the retrieval of the replacement truck, Chadmark also claimed it paid total out-of-pocket expenses of $3533.14-$908.14 for airfare, $225 for lodging, and $2400 for freight-to purchase the replacement truck in Texas and transport it to Iowa.

         In August 2018, after a bench trial, the district court entered its ruling. The court calculated loss-of-use damages by finding the average gross revenue per truck per day; subtracting average costs per truck per day for fuel, wages, and employment taxes; and multiplying by the number of days Truck #10 was expected to be in use, which generated gross damages of $29, 139.11. The court denied Chadmark's request for out-of-pocket expenses. Because Bush already paid $29, ...


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