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February 15, 2008 | Roger McEowen


July 1, 2013 | Roger McEowen

 During July, the economy continued to struggle.  That merits attention on behalf of your clients and continues to put an emphasis on what might be done from a tax planning standpoint to make sure that no more taxes than necessary are being paid.  

Undue influence can occur when a person in a position of authority over another person uses that position to take advantage of that other person.  It is an equitable doctrine, and when it occurs in the context of an individual’s execution of their will, a court, using principles of equity, may invalidate the will as not being the product of the testator’s intent.  Undue influence is particularly prone to occur when the testator is susceptible to undue influence due to relationship, health, capacity, or other issues; someone had the opportunity to exercise undue influence on the testator and

August 20, 2011 | Erin C. Herbold-Swalwell


A landowner had orally leased 80 acres (64.55 tillable acres) of farmland to her nephew since 2000, but did not allow the nephew to farm the land in 2008.  The nephew sued for lost profits and improper termination of a year-to-year farm lease pursuant to Nebraska law. 


An employer must provide employees with a reasonably safe work place, set reasonable rules for employee conduct and adequately train employees to protect the safety of co-workers and others. Failure to do so can result in liability. In this case, over-work and lack of training were cited as the primary causes of a farm accident.  Accordingly, the court placed the blame squarely on a family farming operation for injuries to a farm-hand when a tractor was driven over his leg.


August 26, 2012 | Roger McEowen


Courts routinely award damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress or loss of companionship to affected parties.  But, are such awards warranted for pets?  That was the issue in this case involving the intentional killing of a family pet.


Manufacturers have increasingly marketed their products as “green” in the hopes of attracting consumers that into the “green movement.”  Companies use visual images such as a green raindrop or other comparable logo, or make claims that their product promotes “cleaner air” or “reduces CO2 emissions” in order to market their products as “environmentally superior.”

June 28, 2011 | Roger McEowen and Erin Herbold-Swalwell


Federal regulations specify that “organic” crops, if tainted by herbicide, must be sold at lower, nonorganic prices and that the tainted field must be removed from organic production for three years. To be labeled “organic” the federal organic certification regulations adopted by the National Organic Program (NOP) specify that pesticide levels may not exceed 5% of the EPA’s tolerance for specific residue detected after chemical testing.

In July 2011, the Minnesota Court of Appeals, in ruling on an issue of first impression, held that particulate matter from chemical pesticide drift could constitute a trespass under Minnesota law. Upon further review, however, the Minnesota Supreme Court spent little time quelling the Court of Appeals’ forging of new legal ground and swiftly reversed the decision.


In every negligence case, the plaintiff must establish the existence of four elements: duty, breach of that duty, causation, and damages.   On the element of damages, the issue of foreseeability has baffled many since the landmark Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co., 162 N.E. 99 (N.Y. 1928) decision.   Written by Justice Cardozo, the Palsgraf opinion set the standard for establishing a duty owed to a plaintiff from the foreseeability of injury from the defendant’s conduct.   


In an unexpected twist on whether you really can have it your way in the State of Washington, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certified a question to the Washington Supreme Court as to whether the Washington Product Liability Act (WPLA) allows a person to recover emotional distress damages for merely being served and touching a contaminated food product without actually having consumed the product or suffered any physical injury.

March 9, 2012 | Roger McEowen and Erika Eckley


May 17, 2013 | Erika Eckley


In Kansas, the old distinction of different levels of the duty of care owed to licensees versus invitees entering the land of another was eliminated in the 1990s by a Kansas Supreme Court opinion, and a uniform standard of reasonable care was implemented.  However, the duty owed to trespassers, who come onto another’s property without permission, remained the same. For trespassers, land owners have a duty only to refrain from willfully or wantonly harming the trespasser.

March 26, 2012 | Erika Eckley
September 19, 2007 | Roger McEowen


December 3, 2007 | Roger McEowen


April 19, 2012 | Erika Eckley and Roger McEowen
November 17, 2008 | Roger McEowen


Some states still have laws on the books that prohibit corporate involvement in agriculture.  The statutes vary among the states, but usually prohibiting is some combination of ownership of farmland and engaging in agricultural activities other than by related persons.  Since 1935, North Dakota has had a statutory prohibition against corporations engaging in farming. However, in 1981, the North Dakota legislature created an exception for family-held farm and ranch operations with 15 or fewer shareholders to incorporate if:

October 8, 2007 | Roger McEowen
January 22, 2007 | Roger McEowen


March 7, 2007 | Roger McEowen



Many taxpayers overpay their tax obligation and have a right to a refund of those overpayments when they file their tax return. Another option in such a situation is to have the amount of the overpayment apply to future tax liability. What is the best strategy? Well, that depends - and bankruptcy filing may complicate matters. That’s what this case is all about.