Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Bain v. Gillispie case brief

Bain v. Gillispie case brief summary
357 N.W.2d 47 (1984)

Appellant tortfeasors challenged the decision of the Iowa District Court for Johnson County (Iowa), which granted appellee referee's motion for summary judgment that dismissed the tortfeasors' counterclaim for damages arising from the referee's alleged malpractice as a referee during a college basketball game.

Plaintiff was a referee for college basketball games and was blamed by fans for a particular loss by the University of Iowa team. A few days after the controversial game, defendant tortfeasors began marketing shirts bearing a derogatory reference to the referee. The referee brought an action for injunctive relief together with actual and punitive damages. Tortfeasors counterclaimed on a theory of referee malpractice. The trial court granted summary judgment in referee's favor.


  • The court affirmed and found that the referee owed no duty to the tortfeasors. 
  • The court found that it was beyond credulity that plaintiff, while refereeing a game, had to make his calls at all times perceiving that a wrong call could have injured tortfeasors' business or one similarly situated and subject him to liability. 
  • The court determined that the tortfeasors were not beneficiaries under the referee's employment contract and even if they were, they could not maintain a cause of action because they would have been only incidental beneficiaries.
The court affirmed the order of the trial court that granted summary judgment in favor of victim.

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