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Case No. 18-0004

For summaries from opinions prior to August, 2018, view PDF versions here

Heidi McFarland and Rachel McFarland
v.
Jason Rieper

Appellee

Heidi McFarland and Rachel McFarland

Appellant

Jason Rieper

Attorneys for Appellee

Roxanne Barton Conlin

Attorneys for Appellant

David L. Brown and Alexander E. Wonio

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
18-0004
Date Published:
Jul 03, 2019
Summary

            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.

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