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Domina Law Group's Producers Livestock Corp.- Client Wins Important 8th Circuit Decision

The controversy started typically, and innocently, for Producers Livestock Corporation, a commercial lender to persons engaged in production agriculture. Producers’ loans are made primarily to livestock people.

A loan, made to an Iowa veterinarian, was designed to help finance the borrower’s feeder pigs. He intended to place the animals in confinement feeding operations, through arrangements he negotiated with persons who specialized in providing care for animals owned by others.

Although financial problems arose that made repayment difficult, Producers’ borrower paid his secured debt back to the lender.

But he could not, or did not, pay the people who cared for the hogs.

Not so wisely, those providing care allowed the debt to pile up, and reach big six (6) figure amounts. Only then, finding itself unable to collect from its customer, the beleaguered services company sued Domina Law Group’s client. Jason Bottlinger, andDave Domina, defended.

Questions arose concerning Producers’ documents. The papers were somewhat out of date, though clearly documenting a loan, and intending to document a secured lien priority position. Both the borrower and the lender knew this, and Producers was paid as a result.

But, desperation leads to desperate arguments. The unpaid services provider claimed it was Producers’ job to pay it for caring for the swine, though a history of communication suggested otherwise.

Extensive discovery, followed by important strategic decisions led Domina Law Group pc llo to file a motion for summary judgment.

“We know that the summary judgment is not routinely used to dispose of cases in which there are charges that facts were misrepresented. It also is not always used in cases where the remedy sought is ‘equitable’ as contrasted with legal, in nature,” Jason Bottlinger explained.

Thus Bottlinger and Domina documented a thorough legal brief, moved for summary judgment, and succeeded in the trial court. The case was over for the moment.

But the services company appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. There, tried anew to a three (3) judge panel on the record developed in the District Court, the issue was this: Is there a genuine issue of material fact that a jury should decide, or is the judge in a position to decide the case on its merits without trial?

“We were delighted with the 8th Circuit’s twenty (20) page opinion affirming judgment in favor of Producers,” Jason Bottlinger said. The decision clarifies important points of Iowa law concerning the Doctrine of Misrepresentation in a lender-third party customer situation.

Domina Law Group’s summary judgment brief, which served as the foundation of its brief on appeal to the 8th Circuit, apparently proved useful to the Court. Complimenting Bottlinger, Domina said “It is always gratifying to read an appellate court opinion in which it is clear that our work helped mold the decision, and was deemed credible by the Court. This is all the more gratifying when our client prevails.”

Domina Law Victory - US Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit Opinion (1/23/12)

Producers Livestock Marketing Association vs. Lakeside Feeders, Inc. (8th Circuit Court of Appeals 9/20/11)

Categories: Agricultural Law

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