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Case No. 18-1100

Neil Conner, LinDa Stougard, and Dale Conner
v.
Eva Decker

Appellants

Neil Conner, LinDa Stougard, and Dale Conner

Appellee

Eva Decker

Attorneys for Appellants

Tyler M. Smith
Alexander E. Wonio

Attorneys for Appellee

Alan M. Wilson

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
18-1100
Date Published:
Nov 27, 2019
Summary

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Lucas County, John D. Lloyd, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Tabor, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, J.  (14 pages)

            Three siblings appeal the district court’s order granting judgment notwithstanding the verdict, vacating an award of punitive damages, and granting a conditional new trial following the jury verdicts on their claims of tortious interference with inheritance, unjust enrichment, and mistake.  OPINION HOLDS: The defendant cannot have acted in good faith in regard to the joint accounts she held with the decedent (although the decedent acted freely, intelligently, and voluntarily) and simultaneously have interfered with the siblings’ inheritance of the funds in those accounts by committing acts of fraud or by exerting undue influence on the decedent.  In addition, even viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the siblings, this record lacks substantial proof the defendant engaged in fraud or undue influence.  Next, because the siblings did not prove their claim of intentional interference, we affirm the district court’s decision to vacate the award of punitive damages.  Finally, the jury’s award of compensatory damages was not supported by substantial evidence.  We find no abuse of discretion in the court’s order for conditional new trial or remittitur.

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