Man entitled to commission, but a reduced amount

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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.


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues