Iowa appeals court overturns damages over failed adoption

July 4, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Court of Appeals has overturned a $3.25 million jury award against a Des Moines-area couple’s lawyer over a failed adoption where the baby boy later was murdered.

The Des Moines Register reports that a three-judge panel ruled Wednesday that adoption attorney Jason Rieper’s conduct fell short of the legal threshold permitting Rachel and Heidi McFarland of Ankeny to recover damages for emotional distress from alleged malpractice.

They sued because Rieper failed to get the birth mother’s signature in 2014 on a crucial document. Rieper said she changed her mind.

The infant lived with the couple for two months before he was returned to his mother. Five weeks later, he was found dead in her apartment.

The father pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and received a 50-year prison sentence.

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