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

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  2. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

  3. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

  4. My daughter was married less than a week and her new hubbys picture was on tv for drugs and now I havent't seen my granddaughters since st patricks day. when my daughter left her marriage from her childrens Father she lived with me with my grand daughters and that was ok but I called her on the new hubby who is in jail and said didn't want this around my grandkids not unreasonable request and I get shut out for her mistake

  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

ADVERTISEMENT