UPDATES & ANALYSIS

4.19

Iowa Supreme Court to hear oral argument in one case April 20

by Rox Laird | April 19, 2022

The Iowa Supreme Court on April 20 will hear its final scheduled oral argument for the 2021-22 term, which ends in June.

One case, Hoffman v. Clark, will be argued at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Two other cases will be submitted to the Court without oral argument. Go to On Brief’s “Cases in the Pipeline” page to read briefs filed in these cases.

Scott Clark and RealTuners LLC seek further review of a May 12, 2021, Iowa Court of Appeals ruling affirming a Pottawattamie County District Court jury award of $11 million against Clark for defamation of his former employer, Jerry Hoffman and Georgia-based DIY AutoTune, which provides services for do-it-yourself automobile racing.

After Clark was fired by DIY AutoTune for insubordination, he started a competing business, RealTuner, and frequently criticized Hoffman and DIY AutoTune in Facebook posts and online videos. Hoffman and DIY AutoTune sued Clark for defamation, among other claims, which resulted in the jury verdict of $1 million in personal libel per say damages for Hoffman, $4.5 million in business reputational damages for DIY AutoTune, and $5.5 million in punitive damages.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the jury award and the trial court’s rulings during and after the trial.

In their application for further review, Clark and RealTuners urge the Supreme Court to vacate the Court of Appeals decision and remand for a new trial on grounds that the District Court erred in striking their answer and counterclaims at trial, the jury’s verdict was excessive, and attorney fees were wrongly awarded to plaintiffs.

 

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