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Case No. 19-0241

NCJC, Inc.
v.
WMG, L.C.

Defendant appealed from a district court judgment entered in plaintiff’s action for damages for breach of a farm lease. Defendant contended that because plaintiff ultimately recovered less than the amount of defendant’s prior offer to confess judgment, the district court erred: (1) in failing to include defendant’s postoffer attorney fees in the court’s award of costs to defendant under Iowa Code sections 625.22 and 677.10; (2) in awarding postoffer attorney fees to plaintiff; and (3) in failing to segregate plaintiff’s preoffer attorney fees from its postoffer attorney fees to evaluate each separately. Defendant also contended the court erred in failing to award defendant attorney fees under section 625.22 on those claims in plaintiff’s action for which defendant prevailed. The court of appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. Each party seeks further review.

County:
Kossuth

Resisters

NCJC, Inc.

Applicant

WMG, L.C.

Attorneys for Resisters

Wesley T. Graham
Philip J. Kaplan

Attorneys for Applicant

Thomas W. Lipps

Supreme Court

Oral Argument Schedule

15-15-5

Feb 17, 2021 9:00 AM

Briefs

Supreme Court Opinion

Opinion Number:
19-0241
Date Published:
May 28, 2021
Date Amended:
Aug 03, 2021

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
19-0241
Date Published:
May 13, 2020
Summary

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Kossuth County, Carl J. Petersen, Judge.  AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, and REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and May, JJ.  Opinion by May, J.  (11 pages)

            This case involves a dispute over a farm lease.  The lease includes an attorney-fee clause.  On appeal, WMG, L.C. claims the district court abused its discretion by denying its request for attorney fees but awarding attorney fees in favor of NCJC, Inc.  Opinion holds: (1) For purposes of the lease’s attorney-fee clause, “the prevailing party” was NCJC, not WMG.  So WMG was not entitled to attorney fees.  (2) Iowa Code section 622.25 (2017) did not preclude NCJC from recovering attorney fees.  (3) Under Brockhouse v. State, 449 N.W.2d 380, 381 (Iowa 1989), Iowa Code section 677.10 precluded NCJC from recovering attorney fees incurred for services provided after the time of WMG’s offer to confess.

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