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Cozart v. Logue

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

November 5, 2014

G. MASON COZART, LARRY BUTTRAM, and DYNAREPS INVESTMENT GROUP, APPELLANTS
v.
LOUISE LOGUE, APPELLEE

Page 134

APPEAL FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SEVENTEENTH DIVISION. NO. 60CV-2011-2757. HONORABLE MACKIE M. PIERCE, JUDGE.

Stanley D. Rauls, for appellant.

Rose Law Firm, by: Amanda Wofford and Haley Heath Burks, for appellee.

RHONDA K. WOOD, Judge. GLOVER and VAUGHT, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 135

RHONDA K. WOOD, Judge

This appeal arises from appellee Louise Logue's breach-of-contract action against G. Mason Cozart, Dynareps Investment Group, and Larry Buttram. The circuit court directed a verdict in favor of Dynareps and Buttram but denied their motion for attorney fees. A jury ultimately found in favor of Logue in her surviving action against Cozart. On appeal, Cozart contends the following: (1) there was not sufficient evidence to support the jury verdict; (2) there was not sufficient evidence Logue suffered a compensable damage; and (3) the circuit court abused its discretion in awarding Logue attorney's fees. Dynareps and Buttram also appeal the circuit court's denial of their motion for attorney's fees. We affirm on all grounds.

Logue is a financial advisor who directs business to LPL Financial, a national brokerage company, in exchange for a commission. Cozart and Buttram were financial advisors operating under the name Dynareps, which also directed business to LPL. In February 2010, Logue and Cozart entered into an agreement under which Logue would affiliate with Dynareps, Buttram, and Cozart. Cozart agreed to supervise Logue's work as well as provide other services to her in exchange for a percentage of her commissions. Logue and Cozart then executed a written override agreement which directed LPL to pay 44% of Logue's commissions to Cozart. For the following ten months, LPL paid this portion of Logue's commission to Cozart. However, Logue maintained that Cozart did not fulfill the terms of their agreement. Consequently, she filed suit against Cozart, Buttram, and Dynareps for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and fraud. The case proceeded to jury trial, and at the close of Logue's case, the circuit court granted Buttram and Dynareps's directed-verdict motion, thus dismissing all Logue's claims against them. The court also dismissed the unjust enrichment and fraud claims against Cozart.

The breach-of-contract claim against Cozart was the only one submitted to the

Page 136

jury. The jury found that Cozart had breached his contract with Logue and awarded damages of $42,647. Logue then requested attorney's fees as the prevailing party against Cozart and was awarded $25,000. Buttram and Dynareps also requested attorney fees as they contended they were the prevailing party against Logue, but the circuit court denied their request.

I. Sufficiency of the Evidence for Breach of Contract

Cozart challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury's verdict. On review, it is not this court's place to try issues of fact; rather, this court simply reviews the record for substantial evidence to support the jury's verdict. Advanced Envtl. Recycling Techs., Inc. v. Advanced Control Solutions, Inc., 372 Ark. 286, 275 S.W.3d 162 (2008). Substantial evidence is that which goes beyond suspicion or conjecture and is sufficient to compel a conclusion one way or the other. Id. In determining whether there is substantial evidence, we view ...


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