Justia Iowa Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Iowa Supreme Court
Moad v. Dakota Truck Underwriters, Risk Admin. Servs., Inc.
Douglas Moad was driving his truck within the course of his employment with Employer when his truck was struck by an oncoming vehicle. Douglas died from his injuries. Employer maintained workers' compensation services with Dakota Truck Underwriters (DTU), a South Dakota corporation with its principal place of business in South Dakota. Employer also maintained motorist liability coverage with Northland Insurance Company (Northland). Douglas and his wife Sharon maintained insurance coverage with Property and Casualty Insurance Company of Hartford (Hartford). Sharon filed a petition seeking damages from Northland and Hartford for uninsured motorist benefits. DTU filed a notice of subrogation lien, asserting that it was entitled to reimbursement from any proceeds obtained by Sharon as a result of the damages action. Sharon reached a settlement agreement with Northland and Hartford. The district court approved the settlement and granted Sharon's motion to extinguish DTU's lien, concluding that in the event DTU's untimely filing of notice of its lien did not bar its interest, Iowa law applied and barred DTU's recovery. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court utilized the wrong standard in resolving the conflict of laws question. View "Moad v. Dakota Truck Underwriters, Risk Admin. Servs., Inc." on Justia Law
Iowa Dental Ass’n v. Iowa Ins. Div.
At issue in this case was whether the Iowa Insurance Commissioner's interpretation of a recently enacted law governing dental insurance plans should be upheld. Petitioner, the Iowa Dental Association (IDA), filed with the Insurance Division a request for a declaratory order clarifying the meaning of "covered services" in the statute. The Commissioner issued a declaratory order stating that an insurer may limit the maximum fees charged by dentists for services that a generally included in the insurer's dental plan, even though they are not actually reimbursed by the insurer because of a plan restriction. The district court affirmed the Commissioner's declaratory ruling. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the services in question did not meet the statutory definition of "covered services" because they had not been reimbursed under the dental plan. Accordingly, an insurer may only impose a maximum fee on a service when a reimbursement has been provided for that service. Remanded. View "Iowa Dental Ass'n v. Iowa Ins. Div." on Justia Law
Farm Bureau Life Ins. Co. v. Holmes Murphy & Assocs., Inc.
A husband and wife applied for life insurance policies from Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company and later sued Farm Bureau for its alleged negligence in failing to notify them of their HIV-positive status. Farm Bureau settled the negligence claims, sued its insurers for indemnity, and sued its insurance broker for breach of contract and negligence in failing to provide timely notice to the insurers. The district court granted summary judgment (1) in favor of the insurers on the ground that Farm Bureau had failed to give them timely notice of the applicants' liability claims, and (2) in favor of the broker after concluding that even if the insurers had been given timely notice of the applicants' tort claims against Farm Bureau, coverage for those claims would have been precluded under two separate exclusions. In this appeal, Farm Bureau challenged the judgment in favor of the broker. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the underwriting exclusion would have precluded coverage for the applicants' claims even if the insurers had been timely notified under the policy's notice requirement. View "Farm Bureau Life Ins. Co. v. Holmes Murphy & Assocs., Inc." on Justia Law
Cooksey v. Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.
Employee sought unemployment benefits from Iowa Workforce Development after his discharge from employment by Employer. An ALJ concluded Employee was not entitled to benefits, and the Employment Appeal Board (EAB) affirmed. Employee petitioned for judicial review, naming Employer in the caption as a "defendant." The caption made no mention of the EAB, but the body of the petition made it plain that the appeal was being taken from the final action of the EAB. The petition was timely served on the EAB. The district court dismissed the petition, concluding that Employee's failure to list the EAB as a respondent in the caption was fatal. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the district court erred in dismissing the petition where Employee substantially complied with the relevant statute by identifying the EAB as the agency who entered the final agency action from which Employee sought to appeal. Thus, the petition was sufficient to vest subject matter jurisdiction with the district court. View "Cooksey v. Cargill Meat Solutions Corp." on Justia Law
Chartis Ins. v. Iowa Ins. Comm’r
Chartis Insurance issued two workers' compensation insurance policies to Action Warehouse Company. Action, in turn, contracted with two tire companies to provide employees to operate tire warehouses owned by the companies and used exclusively to store the goods manufactured by the respective employers. Originally, Chartis classified the Action employees who staffed the warehouses under the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) classification code applicable to general warehouse employees. Later, Chartis retroactively and prospectively changed the employees' classification code to the code applicable to rubber tire manufacturing, resulting in a significantly higher premium. Action appealed. The NCCI Iowa workers' compensation appeals board ruled in favor of Chartis. The Iowa Insurance Commissioner reversed, and the district court affirmed. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether the Commissioner had the authority under Iowa Code 515A.1 to consider an as-applied challenge to a workers' compensation liability insurance rating schedule approved for use in accordance with Iowa law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Commissioner did not have the authority to determine that a specific application of a plan approved under Iowa Code 515A.4 violated the statute's general purpose as outlined in section 515A.1 by being excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory. View "Chartis Ins. v. Iowa Ins. Comm'r" on Justia Law
Coffey v. Mid Seven Transp. Co.
Employee was injured while working for Employer and was awarded permanent partial disability benefits. Employee subsequently petitioned to review-reopen his workers' compensation claim, seeking additional workers' compensation benefits, seeking reimbursement for additional postarbitration medical expenses, requesting a determination of the amount of workers' compensation benefits still owed by Employer and its insurer, and asking the court to decide whether the workers' compensation commissioner needed to enter an additional order compelling payment to enforce an arbitration award for the unpaid benefits. The district court (1) rejected Employee's petition for review as untimely; (2) affirmed denial of reimbursement for some of Employee's medical expenses; and (3) did not provide the requested calculation but ruled that a compel-payment order was unnecessary because Employee could seek a judgment to enforce the award. The Supreme Court (1) reversed as to the statute of limitations for a petition for review-reopening; and (2) affirmed as to the judgment regarding which medical expenses were causally connected to the work-related injury. Remanded to the district court for it to remand the matter to the commissioner with directions to decide the issues regarding the amount still owed to Employee by Employer and its insurer under the arbitration award. View "Coffey v. Mid Seven Transp. Co." on Justia Law
Rivera v. Woodword Res. Ctr.
Plaintiff filed a wrongful discharge suit against the State. The State moved to dismiss the action for failure to exhaust administrative remedies as required by the Iowa Tort Claims Act (Act). The district court granted the motion, holding that the claim was a tort subject to the Act. After an unsuccessful appeal, Plaintiff filed her lawsuit in district court a second time. The district court held that Plaintiff failed to comply with the statute of limitations and dismissed the second lawsuit. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff properly complied with the savings clause of the statute of limitations under the Act once the district court determined the Act provided the exclusive remedy for her claim. Remanded. View "Rivera v. Woodword Res. Ctr." on Justia Law
Coffey v. Mid Seven Transp. Co.
Employee, who was injured while working for Employer, sought enforcement of an arbitration award he received from the workers' compensation commissioner against Employer and Employer's insurer. Employee requested the district court to determine the amount Employer and its insurer (collectively, Appellees) owed him under the arbitration award in light of Employee's claim that Appellees failed to pay all of the medical benefits, mileage reimbursements, and interest due under the arbitration decision. Appellees claimed a credit against any amount they owed Employee due to his third-party settlements. After a hearing, the district court declined to answer the issues raised by the parties and declined to determine the amount still owed to Employee under the arbitration decision, concluding that addressing the issues in Employee's petition required the district court to exceed its authority. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded to the district court for the court to remand the matter to the commissioner with directions to decide the issues Employee raised in his petition for judgment. View "Coffey v. Mid Seven Transp. Co." on Justia Law
MC Holdings, LLC v. Davis County Bd. of Review
Attorney represented MC Holdings, LLC, a landowner in Davis County, and Keo Rental, LLC, a landowner in Van Buren County, both of whom desired to protest the property-tax assessment made by their county assessors. Attorney sent the protests to the respective county boards of review on the deadline for such filings but inadvertently switched the two petitions. Consequently, the Davis County Board of Review received the Van Buren County petition with the Davis County cover letter, and vice versa. The Davis County and Van Buren County boards of review denied the protests as improperly filed, finding Attorney's clients did not file a timely protest. The boards of review denied Attorney's applications for reconsideration. The district court denied summary judgment requested by the boards, finding the cover letters constituted substantial compliance with the statutory requirements for a protest. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Davis County Board had jurisdiction to consider the motion for reconsideration. Remanded. View "MC Holdings, LLC v. Davis County Bd. of Review" on Justia Law
In re Detention of Blaise
Appellant pleaded guilty to first-degree harassment. While Appellant was incarcerated for the offense, the State sought to have him committed as a sexually violent predator (SVP) under Iowa Code 229A. A jury found Appellant was an SVP, and Appellant was ordered for commitment. The Supreme Court remanded the case. On retrial, the jury against concluded Appellant was an SVP, and Appellant was again ordered committed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant failed to meet his burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he was prejudiced by his counsel's advise to sign a speedy trial waiver; (2) Appellant was not prejudiced by his trial counsel's failure to adequately argue the trial should have been bifurcated to protect Appellant's due process rights; and (3) the prosecution did not misstate the evidence during trial. View "In re Detention of Blaise" on Justia Law