The Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled a man can sue his friends over a wayward piece of plywood. Mark Peak was helping friends Ellis and Rachel Adams move into their Muscatine home in February of 2008. The U-Haul truck they were using got stuck and Peak placed a piece of plywood under the rear wheels to help with traction.
The plywood flew out from under the truck as the wheels started spinning — striking Peak and breaking his leg. Peak required surgery to fix the leg. U-Haul’s insurance company agreed to settle with Peak for 20-thousand dollars if he would sign a waiver. Peak than filed suit against Ellis and Rachel Adams alleging they were jointly negligent on four counts, including the operation of the truck and their failure to remove accumulated snow from their driveway.
Peak’s suit said the U-Haul release did not include Rachel Adams and he could still make a claim against her property and auto insurance. Ellis and Rachel Adams said Peak had released all claims against both of them by signing the U-Haul waiver. The district court ruled in favor of the Adams and dismissed Peak’s claim against them.
The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled that the language of the release is ambiguous and does not warrant a finding that it constituted a full release of both Ellis and Rachel Adams. The Appeals Court says the case should go back to the district court to determine if both of them did rent the truck, and if Peak still has a claim against Rachel Adams.