Standing up for farmers’ rights

Since its founding in 1980, attorneys at the Tom Riley Law Firm have prided themselves on seeking justice for those who have been injured or damaged by the wrongful acts of others. Over the years, the Tom Riley Law Firm has represented thousands of clients and obtained more than $350,000,000 in recoveries on their behalf.

In the 1980s, the Farm Crisis had reached its peak, characterized by agricultural recession, low crop prices and low farm incomes. Many Iowans were especially hard hit. Peter C. Riley, son of founder Tom Riley, was at the forefront of representing farm debtors at a time when they had limited rights.

Ultimately, Peter Riley would become a leader in the development of lender liability law in Iowa, which says that lenders must treat their borrowers fairly, and when they don’t, they can be subject to borrower litigation under a variety of legal claims.

Two legal cases tried by Peter Riley helped to establish lender liability law in Iowa, including Peterson v. First National Bank of Iowa (392 N.W.2d 158; Iowa App. 1986) and Graber v. District Court of Washington County (410 N.W.2d 224; Iowa 1987).

In Graber v. District Court of Washington County, a mortgage foreclosure was the primary action of plaintiffs Peter, Wanda, Eric and Lori Graber (Grabers) and The Production Credit Association of the Midlands (PCA). The Grabers claimed an alleged breach of its fiduciary duty by PCA towards them in connection with the financing of Grabers’ farming operation. Additionally, Grabers asserted that the PCA falsely promised renewal of the Grabers’ loans and that Grabers’ reliance on those promises led to their substantial financial loss.

In Peterson v. First National Bank of Iowa, Keel and Linda Peterson, farmers of two rental properties and a tract that he and his sister owned, alleged that First National Bank of Iowa had intentional interference with their existing contractual relations, intentional interference with prospective contractual relations, and breach of a contract to lend money. The alleged injury was to Petersons’ entire farming operations in 1983 and 1984, causing emotional distress as well as the inability to continue to farm once their rental agreement was voided.

“Our firm was proud to be at the forefront of protecting farmers’ rights at a crucial time in the Farm Crisis, which had a dramatic impact on our state and national economy,” says Peter Riley. “The establishment of lender liability law in Iowa was instrumental in leading to the protection of family farms.”

“These two cases are an example of the ways in which our attorneys at the Tom Riley Law Firm seek justice for our clients, and I’m pleased to have been a part of these successful judgments,” says Peter Riley.