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Case No. 17-1801

Jade E. Robinson and Shannon K. Robinson
William A. Welp and Joyce A. Welp


Jade E. Robinson and Shannon K. Robinson


William A. Welp and Joyce A. Welp

Attorney for the Appellee

Joseph M. Borg and Melissa A. Schilling

Attorney for the Appellant

Barry S. Kaplan

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Jul 03, 2019

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marshall County, Steven J. Oeth, Judge.  AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS AND REMANDED.  Heard by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.  Opinion by Potterfield, P.J.  (18 pages)

            Jade and Shannon Robinson purchased the home of William and Joyce Welp; the Robinsons later initiated suit against the Welps, claiming the Welps failed to disclose a number of known problems with the home.  The district court determined the Welps had a duty to disclose a snake problem pursuant to Iowa Code chapter 558A (2016) and the purchase agreement, which they breached; the court awarded the Robinsons damages in the amount of $64,216.42 and costs and attorney fees of $55,212.  On appeal, the Welps challenge the district court’s ruling, arguing the evidence does not support that there was a snake problem while they owned the home or that they had actual knowledge of any such problem.  In the alternative, they argue newly-discovered evidence presented in their post-judgment petition to vacate requires that the court’s judgment be vacated or modified.  Additionally, they contest the district court’s determination of “reasonable attorney fees,” maintaining the award of fees should be further reduced.  On cross-appeal, the Robinsons maintain the district court should have also determined that the Welps failed to properly disclose problems with leaks in an in-ground pool; they ask for additional damages.  They also urge us to find that the district court abused its discretion in reducing their attorney-fee request and ask for an award of appellate attorney fees.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the district court’s ruling that the Welps breached their duty to disclose a snake problem on the property in question but did not breach a duty to inform the Robinsons of a past pool leak.  We also affirm the district court’s denial of the Welps’ motion to vacate and the reduced award of attorney fees to the Robinsons.  Because the purchase agreement does not preclude the recovery of appellate attorney fees, we remand to the district court for the limited purpose of an evidentiary hearing on and the fixing of appellate attorney fees.

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