Skip to main content
Iowa Judicial Branch
Main Content

Case No. 18-0004

Heidi McFarland and Rachel McFarland
Jason Rieper


Heidi McFarland and Rachel McFarland


Jason Rieper

Attorney for the Appellee

Roxanne Barton Conlin

Attorney for the Appellant

David L. Brown and Alexander E. Wonio

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Jul 03, 2019

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeanie K. Vaudt, Judge.  REVERSED AND REMANDED.  Heard by Mullins, P.J., Bower, J., and Vogel, S.J.  Opinion by Vogel, S.J.  (9 pages)

            Jason Rieper appeals and Heidi and Rachel McFarland cross-appeal from the jury verdict in favor of the McFarlands on their legal-malpractice claim.  Rieper represented the McFarlands in an unsuccessful adoption.  Rieper asserts emotional distress damages are not available here, the McFarlands did not establish a prima facie case for legal malpractice, and a new trial or a reduction or remittitur of the jury award is warranted due to prejudicial statements and violations of the court’s rulings.  On cross-appeal, the McFarlands assert, in the event of a new trial, evidence of the baby’s death should be admitted and we should clarify the standards for evaluating juror bias.  OPINION HOLDS: The McFarlands have not shown Rieper engaged in illegitimate conduct, as required to recover emotional distress damages in a legal-malpractice claim.  We therefore reverse and remand for entry of judgment in favor of Rieper.  Because this issue is dispositive, we do not reach the parties’ other issues.

© 2024 Iowa Judicial Branch. All Rights Reserved.