ILNews

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. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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