Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Iowa Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reaffirmed its holding in Schilling v. Iowa Department of Transportation, 646 N.W.2d 69 (Iowa 2002), that a deferred judgment counts as a "final conviction" for purposes of mandatory license revocation under Iowa Code 321.209 and noted that its intervening decision in State v. Tong, 805 N.W.2d 599 (Iowa 2011), did nothing to erode the Schilling.At issue was the use of a deferred judgment as one of the underlying convictions counted by the Iowa Department of Transportation to revoke Appellant's status as a habitual offender. Appellant's driver's license was revoked under section 321.209 for Appellant's having garnered three enumerated convictions in a six-year period, making him a habitual offender under Iowa Code 321.555(1). Appellant argued that the deferred judgment he received on the eluding charge was not a "final conviction" and could not be counted as one of the predicate convictions. The district court upheld the agency's decision, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the lower courts correctly declined to depart from Schilling. View "Johnston v. Iowa Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying a citizen's quo warranto action asserting that a district judge was holding his office unlawfully, holding that this case presented a nonjusticiable controversy.In 2018, two finalists were sent to the Governor for a district judge position. Iowa law provides that, if the Governor fails to make an appointment within thirty days after a list of nominees has been submitted, the appointment shall be made by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. On a Thursday, the thirtieth day, the Governor communicated to her chief of staff the her selected nominee's identity - Jason Besler. The following Monday the Governor told Besler that he had been selected. The Chief Justice accepted the Governor's view that the appointment was timely. Gary Dickey, a private citizen, filed an application for leave to file a petition for writ of quo warranto alleging that Besler was holding the office of district judge unlawfully because the Governor failed to appoint Besler by the deadline for making an appointment. The district court denied the application. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because both the Governor and the Chief Justice deferred to and accepted the view that the appointment was timely, this quo warranto action was nonjusticiable. View "State ex rel. Dickey v. Besler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court upheld the district court's order directing Plaintiff and/or his attorney to pay reasonable expenses associated with one of the defendant's attendance at a court-ordered pretrial settlement conference due to Plaintiff's failure to appear, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion.Plaintiff failed personally to attend the settlement conference conference, despite pretrial orders and a local rule requiring his attendance. Defendants attended the conference, but Plaintiff did not. The district court refused to hold the conference without Plaintiff present and granted one of the defendant's motions for sanctions. The Supreme Court upheld the district court's order, holding that the district court did not exceed its jurisdiction or otherwise act illegally in finding Plaintiff in violation of the court's trial-setting order when he failed personally to appear for the scheduled settlement conference and in directing the specific sanction in this case. View "Davis v. Iowa District Court for Scott County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court dismissing for lack of standing Attorney's petition for judicial review of the decision of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board dismissing Attorney's complaint that the Governor had underreported the fair market value of a trip to Tennessee, holding that the district court properly concluded that Attorney lacked standing in this case.To comply with campaign disclosure requirements, the Governor's campaign committee reported the trip as a $2800 campaign contribution from an individual donor. Attorney complained to the Board that the Governor had underreported the fair market value of the trip, but the Board dismissed the complaint. Attorney petitioned for judicial review. The district court dismissed the petition, concluding that Attorney had not been injured by the Board's action, nor had he been deprived of any information. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Attorney was not an "aggrieved or adversely affected" party within the meaning of Iowa Code 17A.19; and (2) because Attorney did not allege he was lacking any relevant information but merely voiced a a disagreement over the reporting method used by the candidate committee, Attorney lacked standing. View "Dickey v. Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court holding that a copy of a petition for judicial review sent by email to opposing counsel failed to comply with Iowa Code 17A.19(2), which imposes a jurisdictional requirement for the petitioner in an action for judicial review to timely mail a copy of the petition to attorneys for all the parties in the case, holding that emailing between attorneys in Iowa satisfies the jurisdictional requirement of the statute.Petitioner filed a petition for judicial review after the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner issued a decision in a contested case proceeding against Loyd Ruling Construction. Loyd Roling filed a motion to dismiss the petition for judicial review, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction because Petitioner's attorney did not mail the copy of the petition through the postal system until more than ten days after the petition was filed, as required by section 17A.19(2). The district court agreed and dismissed the petition, concluding that electronic mailing did not constitute substantial compliance with the statute. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the service requirement under the statute is satisfied when a lawyer emails a copy of the petition to opposing counsel. View "Ortiz v. Loyd Roling Construction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals declining to give preemptive effect to a no-hazard determination by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and affirmed as modified the judgment of the district court, holding that the Federal Aviation Act allows for local zoning regulation, and the FAA's no-hazard letter did not preempt the local airport zoning regulations as a matter of law.A farmer built a twelve-story grain leg near an airport. The airport commission informed the farmer he needed a variance and refused to grant one. Thereafter, the FAA approved the structure. The local commissioners later brought this action in equity to force the farmer to modify or remove the structure. The district court issued an injunction. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted further review and held (1) state and local regulators can impose stricter height restrictions on structures in flight paths notwithstanding an FAA no-hazard determination, and therefore, the no-hazard letter did not preempt the local airport zoning regulations; and (2) the district court properly found that the structure constituted a threat to aviation requiring abatement, but the $200 daily penalty is vacated and the judgment is modified to require the farmer to abate the nuisance within nine months of this opinion. View "Carroll Airport Commission v. Danner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for a judgment creditor and dismissed the petition filed by the judgment debtor and his wife to vacate a charging order to execute foreign judgments in Iowa district court against the judgment debtor's membership interests in an Iowa limited liability company (LLC), holding that there was no reason to reverse the judgment of the district court.The judgment debtor and his wife sought to vacate the charging order on the grounds that the creditor could not attach the debtor's interests in the Iowa LLC since the debtor and his wife owned them as a tenancy by the entireties in their domicile of Florida. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the creditor, holding (1) the district court properly applied Iowa law because membership interests in an LLC are located in the state where the LLC is formed; (2) the district court correctly dismissed the petition to vacate the charging order since Iowa law does not recognize the ownership of property by a married couple as tenants in the entireties; and (3) the foreign judgments were properly registered, and the charging order was properly issued. View "Wells Fargo Equipment Finance Inc. v. Retterath" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this appeal, holding that Appellant failed to file a timely notice of appeal, which left the Court without subject matter jurisdiction to hear the appeal.This appeal concerned a dispute over workers’ compensation penalty benefits. Appellees filed a motion to dismiss the appeal on the grounds that Appellant failed timely to file his notice of appeal with the district court. The Supreme Court agreed and dismissed the appeal, holding that Appellant’s counsel did not file the notice of appeal with the clerk of court within a reasonable time after the first notice of appeal was served on Appellees. View "Evenson v. Winnebago Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue was whether property owners’ state-law damage claims against the railroad bridge owners alleging that the design and operation of the railroad bridges resulted in flood damage to other properties were preempted by the Federal Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA), 49 U.S.C. 10501(b).Plaintiffs, property owners in Cedar Rapids, sued the owners of certain railroad bridges across the Cedar River alleging that their efforts to protect the bridges from washing out exacerbated the effects of the 2008 flooding for other property owners. The district court granted Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings, concluding that the ICCTA expressly preempted Plaintiffs’ state law claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ICCTA did indeed preempt Plaintiffs’ action. View "Griffioen v. Cedar Rapids" on Justia Law

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The equitable tolling doctrines of the discovery rule and equitable estoppel are available with respect to the 300-day filing limitation in the Iowa Civil Rights Act (ICRA).Plaintiff, an applicant for the position of Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner at Iowa Workforce Development (IWD), brought a failure-to-hire claim against the IWD. The district court dismissed the claim, concluding that Plaintiff could not escape the 300-day filing requirement in the ICRA through application of the discovery rule or equitable estoppel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the discovery rule and equitable estoppel apply to the 300-day filing limitation in the ICRA; but (2) Plaintiff was not entitled to toll the filing limitation through application of either the discovery rule or equitable estoppel. View "Mormann v. Iowa Workforce Development" on Justia Law