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Vol. 11 - Issue 2
February 28, 2022


"Work From Home” Dispute Leads To Lawsuit Between Spouses







I was in IKEA last week and grabbed a pizza for dinner in the restaurant.  The waiter brought a ball of dough, a bowl of sauce and some cheese on a plate.  I looked at him with a really curious expression.  “Oh , sorry,” he said.  “I forget to give you this.”  He handed me one of those little wrenches.


With “work from home” having taken over corporate America, disputes and bickering between spouses are surely at an all-time high.  And given the litigiousness in which we are accustomed, it is not surprising that one of those disputes ended up in court.  And, coincidentally, it arose out of an IKEA incident. 

Right at the start of the pandemic, Joan and Bill Rogers, an accountant and management consultant, respectively, in Des Moines, Iowa, realized that they would be working from home.  They rushed to order a desk from IKEA.  It arrived and Billy, who fancied himself as a “pretty handy guy” -- for proof, he pointed to pictures that he had successfully hung in his house -- went to work putting it together.

An hour later, Billy, with a look of satisfaction on his face, declared the project finished.  Joan studied the desk and asked why there was a board still laying in the box.  “It was an extra piece,” Billy replied.  “IKEA must have put it in, just in case one was broken.”  Joan looked at her husband of 27 years with an expression of breathtaking disbelief.  “IKEA does not include extra parts,” she said, incredulously.  “You obviously didn’t follow the directions if you have an extra board.”

Billy, now on the defensive, pushed down hard on every aspect of the desk and opened and closed the drawers.  “It seems to be working just fine,” he said, smugly.  “Would you like me to say ‘it’s working just fine’ in Swedish?”

Two weeks later, while Joan was on a Zoom call, the desk collapsed.  Thankfully, she had been on mute, so her seven colleagues did not hear the crash.

Billy rushed into the room and witnessed what had happened.  Joan looked at Billy and replied “jag sa det.”
Billy, curious, ran to the internet and typed the strange words into a translator site.  Jag sa det, he learned, meant “I told you so” in Swedish.

Billy was incensed.  Four years earlier, following a dispute over how to use the television remote control, the couple had entered into a consent decree, which barred each from saying “I told you so” to the other -- “even if a reasonable spouse would agree that it was the greatest example ever of an ‘I told you so’ situation.” 

Billy filed suit in Iowa District Court, in Polk County, asserting breach of the consent decree.  Joan filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the consent decree was not violated as it barred the use of “I told you so,” clearly an English phrase, and did not bar the phrase from being said in a foreign language.

The judge heard oral argument on the motion on February 15 and took it under advisement.

The suit had drawn local media interest and a reporter from the Des Moines Register caught up with the couple outside the courthouse.  She asked them how they could stay married if one filed a lawsuit against the other.”

“Oh, we love each other very much,” Billy replied.  “But we both hate being wrong.”  Joan agreed and the couple walked hand-in-hand to their car.          
That’s my time. I’m Randy Spencer. Contact Randy Spencer at

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