Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendant, a bar, which was sued under Iowa’s dramshop statute after an alleged intoxicated person’s (AIP) vehicle struck the rear end of another vehicle. The driver of the struck vehicle alleged that the bar sold and served alcohol to the AIP when it knew or should have known the AIP was intoxicated or would become intoxicated. In granting summary judgment, the district court concluded that the undisputed evidence of serving three beers over four hours alone cannot create an inference that the bar knew or should have known that the AIP was intoxicated or would become intoxicated. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the bar knew or should have known that the AIP was or would become intoxicated when it served beer to her. View "Banwart v. 50th Street Sports, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The City of Albia was statutorily immune from a homeowner’s nuisance claim stemming from reoccurring flooding in the basement of her home due to rainwater discharge from a storm sewer located near the home. The Supreme Court held (1) Iowa Code 670.4(1)(h), which grants immunity to municipalities for tort claims based on claims of negligent design and construction of public improvements and facilities, or failure to upgrade public improvements and facilities, bars those nuisance claims based on conditions created by public improvements and facilities designed and constructed pursuant to generally recognized engineering or safety standards in existence at the time of construction and without evidence that the harmful condition creating the nuisance was inherent in the operation of the improvement or facility itself or evidence of negligent conduct other than the designated conduct immunized under statute; and (2) because the homeowner in this case did not offer any evidence that the City’s storm sewer system was inherently dangerous beyond the dangers associated with failing to upgrade the pipe to accommodate increased water flow, or that the claim was otherwise based on conduct not given immunity, summary judgment on the homeowner’s nuisance claim was properly granted. View "Kellogg v. City of Albia" on Justia Law

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This case, which turned on the issue of when Plaintiff’s causes of action accrued, must be reversed and remanded for a new trial because genuine factual disputes over the statute of limitations should be resolved by the factfinder. Plaintiff, Defendant’s brother, entrusted Defendant, his sister, with blank checks signed in advance to be used to pay bills of Plaintiff and his adult children while he was out of the country. When he returned, Plaintiff learned that Defendant had written many checks to herself. When Plaintiff asked for all of his money back, Defendant told him it had been spent. Brother sued. At issue was when Plaintiff’s causes of action accrued. If they accrued when Plaintiff learned Defendant had written checks to herself, his claims were time-barred. But if they accrued when Plaintiff was told the money was gone, they were timely. The district court declined to instruct the jury on the statute of limitations, and the jury returned a substantial damage verdict on several of Plaintiff’s legal theories. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court erred in not instructing the jury on statute of limitations at all. View "Shams v. Hassan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment on Plaintiff’s malicious prosecution claim on the ground that Defendants did not instigate Plaintiff’s criminal prosecution. Linda Linn and Mark Shuck (together, Plaintiffs) brought suit against Defendants claiming defamation and malicious prosecution. The district court granted summary judgment and partial summary judgment on the defamation claim based on the running of the statute of limitations and granted summary judgment on the malicious prosecution claim. Shuck appealed. The Supreme Court held (1) due to an answer to a special interrogatory by the jury, the court will not reach the statute of limitations arguments made by Shuck on the defamation claim; and (2) the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on the malicious prosecution claim where Defendants merely furnished information to law enforcement. View "Linn v. Montgomery" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff brought claims against her former attorney for legal malpractice. The district court submitted to the jury four claims (1) legal malpractice in Defendant’s representation of Plaintiff in her divorce, (2) legal malpractice in Defendant’s representation of Plaintiff in her potential claim for assault and battery against her ex-husband, (3) assault and battery by Defendant, and (4) punitive damages. The jury returned verdicts for Defendant on the legal malpractice claims and verdicts for Plaintiff on the assault and battery and punitive damages claims. Both parties appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no error in the district court rulings granting motions for directed verdict on certain claims; (2) the evidentiary rulings of the district court were not in error; and (3) while Defendant’s cross-appeal was untimely, on the merits, the award of actual damages and punitive damages did not exceed the range permitted by the evidence. View "Stender v. Blessum" on Justia Law

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In this premises liability action, the district court entered judgment finding that a high school’s negligence was responsible for injuries sustained by a high school baseball player after a foul ball struck him while he was standing in an unprotected part of the visitor’s dugout at the high school’s baseball field. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the high school owed a duty of care to the player, and substantial evidence supported the jury verdict; but (2) the district court abused its discretion in not allowing the high school to present evidence of custom and erred when it failed to instruct the jury on the player’s failure to maintain a proper lookout. The court remanded the case to the district court for a new trial. View "Ludman v. Davenport Assumption High School" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Parents of a child born with severe disabilities may bring a wrongful birth claim based on the physicians’ failure to inform them of prenatal test results showing a congenital defect that would have led them to terminate the pregnancy. Plaintiff filed suit against several medical defendants, alleging that the doctors negligently failed to accurately interpret, diagnose, and respond to fetal abnormalities in her ultrasound and that, as a result of this negligent care, Plaintiff gave birth to a child with severe brain abnormalities. The district court granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the grounds that Iowa has not recognized “wrongful birth” as a cause of action. On appeal, Defendants alleged that a wrongful birth claim is a new cause of action unsupported by Iowa law. Plaintiffs, in turn, noted a clear majority of other jurisdictions allow parents to sue under these facts. The Supreme Court held that wrongful birth fits within common law tort principles governing medical negligence claims, and no public policy or statute precludes the cause of action. The Supreme Court thus reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Defendants, holding that wrongful birth is a cognizable claim under Iowa law. View "Plowman v. Fort Madison Community Hospital" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, who was paralyzed in an accident during a work accident, filed a petition seeking a determination of permanent total disability (PTD) and also sought partial commutation of benefits in a lump sum. Defendant, the workers’ compensation insurer, disputed whether Plaintiff was PTD and resisted the commutation, although it continued to pay full weekly PTD benefits and explore settlement. The Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner granted Plaintiff’s petition for partial commutation. Plaintiff then sued Defendant for first-party bad faith. On summary judgment, the district court determined that Defendant acted in bad faith. The jury awarded punitive and compensatory damages at a ratio of 88:1. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the judgments for compensatory and punitive damages, holding that, while Defendant knew or should have known it lacked any reasonable basis to dispute Plaintiff’s PTD status, the district court erred in ruling that Defendant was in bad faith as a matter of law for resisting the commutation; and (2) the district court properly denied Plaintiff an award of attorney fees incurred in prosecuting the bad-faith action. View "Thornton v. American Interstate Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The district court did not abuse its discretion by certifying this case as a class action. Plaintiffs alleged that air pollution from a corn wet milling plant interfered with the use of their property. Plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging nuisance, trespass, and negligence under common law and statute. The district court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and divided the class into two subclasses, one for members in close proximity to the plant and the other for those in peripheral proximity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class and that Defendant failed to show that the class certification order violated its due process rights. View "Freeman v. Grain Processing Corp." on Justia Law

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William Cubbage was convicted of sexually violent offenses and was adjudicated a sexually violent predator. While in custody at the State’s civil commitment unit for sexual offenders (CCUSO), Cubbage was diagnosed with dementia and other physical and mental ailments. The district court subsequently discharged Cubbage from commitment and committed him to the Pomeroy Care Center. Thereafter, a child visiting the care center witnessed Cubbage sexually assaulting Mercedes Gottschalk, a resident of the Pomeroy Care Center. Gottschalk sued the care center for providing her care in a reckless and negligent manner. After Gottschalk died, her estate substitute itself as the plaintiff and also sued the State for negligence. The Pomeroy Care Center brought a cross-claim alleging negligence on the part of the State for contribution and indemnity. The district court granted summary judgment for the State, concluding (1) because Cubbage was unconditionally discharged from CCUSO, the State had no duty to supervise, monitor, or approve a safety plan; and (2) the doctrine of sovereign immunity prevented any claim of misrepresentation against the State. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the issues preserved, no duty existed as a matter of law between the State and Gottschalk or the State and the care center. View "Estate of Mercedes Gottschalk" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury