Iowa Fights $2.3M Jury Award Over Practice Facility

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The University of Iowa has requested a new trial in a six-year battle over work performed on its football indoor practice facility, citing court errors during the first one, which resulted in a jury awarding the contractor in question more than $2 million.

A&P Samuels Group of Des Moines claimed it had not received payment for work performed during early construction phases on the 102,000-square-foot, $55 million facility, which opened in 2012.

As reported by The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, a Johnson County jury sided Feb. 25 with A&P Samuels and ordered the UI pay $2.6 million plus interest. The award was trimmed to $2.3 million, and attorneys for A&P Samuels promptly filed paperwork asking the Johnson County Sheriff's Office to garnish Board of Regents bank accounts. Board attorneys argued the deadline for fighting the verdict hadn’t passed and — regardless — the university is immune from such a measure since it is a state entity with property that serves a "vital public interest," according to court documents.

Johnson County District Court Judge Paul Miller agreed last Thursday with the university that it would have the money to make good on its debts "in the event it is unsuccessful in arguing its post-trial motions."

“The court is mindful of the fact that this litigation has been ongoing for many years,” Miller wrote. “However, Iowa is entitled to make good faith arguments in post-trial motions, and the time for the filing of such motions has not yet passed.”

On Friday, the university requested a new trial, accusing the court of failing to admit an exhibit the UI found "clearly relevant" and of improperly instructing jurors. It also accused A&P Samuels of prejudicing jurors by telling them the regents drove it out of business and then stating during closing arguments that it's a "viable business."

Iowa further argued the jury was influenced "by passion and prejudice," as evidenced by a jury question about legal fees.

"No claim was made for attorney fees, and the question clearly indicates an intent to punish Iowa," according to the request for a new trial. "The court acknowledged the juror question made little sense."

As of Tuesday, no order had been issued regarding Iowa's request for a new trial.

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