FROM THE CRITTENDEN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 18CV-09-414]
HONORABLE PAMELA HONEYCUTT, JUDGE.
Waddell, Cole & Jones, PLLC, by; Ralph W. Waddell, Kevin
W. Cole, and Justin E. Parkey, for appellant/cross-appellee.
Rogers, Coe & Sumpter, by: Joe M. Rogers, for
F. VIRDEN, JUDGE.
Credit Midsouth, PCA, appeals from a Crittenden County
jury's verdict in favor of appellees Fred Bollinger Jr.,
individually, and his related farming entities Bollinger Lone
Oak, Inc., and Bollinger Partners, Inc. (collectively, the
Bollingers). The Bollingers cross-appeal from the circuit
court's decisions granting summary judgment or directed
verdicts in favor of Farm Credit on certain of the
Bollingers' claims. We affirm in part and reverse in part
on direct appeal; we affirm on cross-appeal.
in 2003, Farm Credit made a series of operating and equipment
loans to the Bollingers' farming operations. The loans
were secured by various security agreements and mortgages
granting Farm Credit liens in the Bollingers' crops,
government payments, crop insurance, equipment, and real
estate. The Bollingers had a disastrous 2007 crop season when
a late-April freeze damaged their wheat crop. Later, a severe
drought reduced their soybean yield. Because of these weather
impacts, the Bollingers, who had booked their crops with
Riceland Foods, were unable to produce enough grain to
fulfill their contracts with Riceland. This caused a default
on the Farm Credit loans.
the Bollingers defaulted, Farm Credit filed a foreclosure and
replevin action in 2009 for judgment on the notes and
foreclosure of the collateral.
Bollingers answered, raising affirmative defenses. They also
filed a counterclaim, asserting three basic claims: (1) that
Farm Credit improperly required the Bollingers to book their
crops as a condition of receiving loans; (2) that Farm Credit
disclaimed any interest in the proceeds of the
Bollingers' 2008 soybean crop only later to renege on its
disclaimer and wrongfully assert a lien on those proceeds;
and (3) that Farm Credit mishandled the Bollingers'
crop-insurance applications and claims. The Bollingers
also sought punitive damages and a jury trial on all issues
triable by jury.
circuit court granted partial summary judgment in favor of
Farm Credit on the Bollingers' claim for punitive
damages. Farm Credit also moved for summary judgment on its
complaint, which the circuit court granted as to liability
but withheld entry of a final summary judgement until after
trial of the Bollingers' counterclaim when the value of
all of the claims could be determined.
case was submitted to a jury over several days. The circuit
court directed verdicts in favor of Farm Credit on certain
claims. The jury found in favor of the Bollingers on all
three of their claims, based on multiple theories on each
claim. In entering judgment on the jury's verdict, the
court found that the Bollingers were entitled to only one
recovery on each of their claims. Thus, Fred Bollinger, Jr.,
was awarded a total of $564, 564.35; Bollinger Lone Oak,
Inc., a total of $534, 314.42; and Bollinger Partners, Inc.,
a total of $389, 108.15
Credit filed a timely motion for judgment notwithstanding the
verdict (JNOV) or, alternatively, for new trial, which was
denied after a hearing. The Bollingers also filed a posttrial
motion seeking prejudgment interest on their claims for Farm
Credit's asserting a lien on their 2008 soybean crop. At
the conclusion of a telephone hearing, the court granted the
motion and awarded the Bollingers a total of $173, 867.45.
This appeal and cross-appeal timely followed.
addressing the merits of the appeal and cross-appeal, we must
first address an issue of finality. The issue is that there
was no express resolution of Farm Credit's complaint for
mentioned above, the circuit court granted summary judgment
in favor of Farm Credit on its foreclosure complaint.
However, the court withheld entry of a judgment in favor of
Farm Credit until after trial of the Bollingers'
counterclaim. The court said that it intended to issue a
judgment once the amounts of the various claims were
determined. Between the entry of the summary-judgment order
as to liability and trial, however, Fred Bollinger, Jr., and
Fred Bollinger, Sr., sold their interests in Bollinger
Brothers, Inc., and paid off the principal and interest owing
on loans made to Bollinger Lone Oak, Inc., and Bollinger
Partners, Inc., secured by mortgages on land owned by
Bollinger Brothers, Inc. Farm Credit subsequently released
the mortgages securing the loans. Obviously, by having the
loans paid and the mortgages released, there was no further
need for action on Farm Credit's complaint. Both parties
acknowledge that no order was ever entered finally
adjudicating Farm Credit's complaint.
this lack of an order disposing of Farm Credit's
complaint would render the judgment entered on the
Bollingers' counterclaim nonfinal. See Bevans v.
Deutsche Bank Nat'l Tr. Co., 373 Ark. 105, 281
S.W.3d 740 (2008). However, Farm Credit's notice of
appeal contains a statement that it abandoned all pending but
unresolved claims. This abandonment operates as a dismissal
with prejudice effective on the date that the otherwise final
judgment appealed from was entered. Ark. R. App. P.-Civ.
3(e)(vi). We hold that the statement in the notice of appeal
was sufficient to render the judgment entered on the
jury's verdict final and appealable even though there was
no express final adjudication of Farm Credit's complaint.
Ark. R. App. P.-Civ. 3; Bradshaw v. Fort Smith Sch.
Dist., 2017 Ark.App. 196, at 4, 519 S.W.3d 344, 347.
Arguments on Appeal
depart from our usual practice of addressing the points of
error in the order raised by the parties and address the
points topically, including arguments on both direct appeal
and cross-appeal. This is done in an attempt to make it
easier on the reader of this opinion.
appeal, Farm Credit argues that (1) it is entitled to a new
trial because the Bollingers received a double recovery; (2)
there is no substantial evidence to support the jury's
verdict on tortious interference; (3) there is no substantial
evidence to support the jury's verdict on deceit as to
the 2008 soybean crop; (4) there is no substantial evidence
to support the verdict for promissory estoppel; (5) there is
no substantial evidence to support the claims for negligence
and breach of fiduciary duty arising out of the 2008 soybean
crop; (6) there is no substantial evidence to support the
jury's verdict of promissory estoppel on crop insurance;
(7) it is entitled to a new trial because the circuit court
erred by allowing the jury to decide the Bollingers'
counterclaim; and (8) the court erred in granting prejudgment
cross appeal, the Bollingers argue that the circuit court
erred in granting Farm Credit directed verdicts on their
claims for (1) negligence in the booking claim; (2) breach of
fiduciary duty in the booking claim; (3) reduced yields; (4)
and unplanted crops; and in granting Farm Credit summary
judgment on their booking-penalties claim.
Standard of Review
parties challenge the circuit court's rulings on motions
for directed verdicts. A circuit court evaluates a motion for
directed verdict by deciding whether the evidence is
sufficient for the case to be submitted to the jury; that is,
whether the case constitutes a prima facie case for relief.
Gamble v. Wagner, 2014 Ark.App. 442, 440 S.W.3d 352.
In making that determination, the circuit court does not
weigh the evidence; rather, it is to view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the party against whom the verdict is
sought and give it its highest probative value, taking into
account all reasonable inferences deducible from it.
Id. If any substantial evidence exists that tends to
establish an ...