ILNews

Man entitled to commission, but a reduced amount

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Because a former employee wasn’t aware of nor agreed to a plan that would effectively limit his earnings from selling crop insurance, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed based on Indiana law that he was entitled to his commission he secured in 2005 even if premiums weren't received until later. The appellate court did, however, reduce the amount of money his former employer owed him due to draws and set-offs.

Wells Fargo Insurance appealed summary judgment in favor of Bruce A. Land, who sold crop insurance for the company from April 2005 until the beginning of February 2006. Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Land worked for JS Crop Insurance, which sold its assets to Wells Fargo in April 2005.

Wells Fargo claimed the trial court erred in determining the amount of Land’s 2005 crop-year commissions and whether the company is entitled to deduct the amount of Land’s 2006 draw from his 2005 commissions. On appeal, Land claimed Wells Fargo’s arguments were barred by judicial estoppel and that he was entitled to additional attorney fees and appellate attorney fees.

In Wells Fargo Insurance Inc. v. Bruce A. Land, No. 48A02-0911-CV-1099, the appellate court ruled Wells Fargo’s arguments weren’t barred by judicial estoppel. The trial court was correct in finding that Land was entitled to commissions for crop insurance he sold in 2005 regardless of when the premiums were paid. Wells Fargo had a commission plan that gave employees commission only when premiums were paid on those policies, and the company claimed Land shouldn’t get any commission on premiums paid after he left the company.

But Land wasn’t aware of, didn’t agree to, nor did he sign the commission plan, wrote Senior Judge John Sharpnack. Thus, he was entitled to nearly $56,000 for 2005 commissions paid to the agency before Jan. 1, 2006, and $10,600 in 2005 commissions paid in 2006 before he left.

Because Land’s 2005 draw was $35,217, that amount was subtracted from his 2005 commissions. Also subtracted was the $10,500 in compensation he received from JS Crop for 2005. Wells Fargo is also entitled to a set-off of Land’s 2006 draw that the company paid him before he resigned. Land was paid solely in commission, and because he didn’t make any commission in 2006, allowing him to keep the $6,049 draw would be windfall. The appellate court subtracted the $6,049 to leave Land with a balance of commission owed him to around $15,300.

In addition, because Wells Fargo already paid him more than $10,000 in commissions in March 2006, the appellate court reduced the amount owed to $4,589. The Court of Appeals applied the statutory penalty provided for in Indiana Code Section 22-2-5-2, and assessed a penalty of more than $9,100 to bring the total owed to Land to be more than $13,700.

Land is also entitled to trial attorney fees, which the trial court denied, as well as appellate attorney fees. The Court of Appeals remanded with instructions to determine the amount and reasonableness of attorney fees to which Land is entitled.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by
2015 Distinguished Barrister &
Up and Coming Lawyer Reception

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 • 4:30 - 7:00 pm
Learn More


ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Sociologist of religion Peter Berger once said that the US is a “nation of Indians ruled by Swedes.” He meant an irreligious elite ruling a religious people, as that Sweden is the world’s least religious country and India the most religious. The idea is that American social elites tend to be much less religious than just about everyone else in the country. If this is true, it helps explain the controversy raking Indiana over Hollywood, San Fran, NYC, academia and downtown Indy hot coals. Nevermind logic, nevermind it is just the 1993 fed bill did, forget the Founders, abandon of historic dedication to religious liberty. The Swedes rule. You cannot argue with elitists. They have the power, they will use the power, sit down and shut up or feel the power. I know firsthand, having been dealt blows from the elite's high and mighty hands often as a mere religious plebe.

  2. I need helping gaining custody of my 5 and 1 year old from my alcoholic girlfriend. This should be an easy case for any lawyer to win... I've just never had the courage to take her that far. She has a record of public intox and other things. She has no job and no where to live othe than with me. But after 5 years of trying to help her with her bad habit, she has put our kids in danger by driving after drinking with them... She got detained yesterday and the police chief released my kids to me from the police station. I live paycheck to paycheck and Im under alot of stress dealing with this situation. Can anyone please help?

  3. The more a state tries to force people to associate, who don't like each other and simply want to lead separate lives, the more that state invalidates itself....... This conflict has shown clearly that the advocates of "tolerance" are themselves intolerant, the advocates of "diversity" intend to inflict themselves on an unwilling majority by force if necessary, until that people complies and relents and allows itself to be made homogenous with the politically correct preferences of the diversity-lobbies. Let's clearly understand, this is force versus force and democracy has nothing to do with this. Democracy is a false god in the first place, even if it is a valid ideal for politics, but it is becoming ever more just an empty slogan that just suckers a bunch of cattle into paying their taxes and volunteering for stupid wars.

  4. I would like to discuss a commercial litigation case. If you handle such cases, respond for more details.

  5. Great analysis, Elizabeth. Thank you for demonstrating that abortion leads, in logic and acceptance of practice, directly to infanticide. Women of the world unite, you have only your offspring to lose!

ADVERTISEMENT