Skip to main content
Iowa Judicial Branch
Main Content

Case No. 20-0352

Mary Elizabeth Slezak
Carl W. Matherly


Mary Elizabeth Slezak


Carl W. Matherly

Attorney for the Appellee

Joseph G. Gamble and Tara J. Higgins

Attorney for the Appellant

Shaun Thompson

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Mar 17, 2021

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeanie Vaudt, Judge.  AFFIRMED. Heard by Bower, C.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.  Opinion by Mullins, J.  (27 pages)

            Carl Matherly appeals, and Mary Slezak (MaryBeth) cross-appeals, the district court’s rulings following a bench trial for claims related to the MEM Trust.  OPINION HOLDS: Our review of the record reveals that MaryBeth’s claims flowing from her right as a beneficiary to the MEM Trust, an express trust created in 1977, are governed by the Iowa Trust Code and were properly tried to the bench.  MaryBeth presented sufficient evidence supporting her requested use of offensive issue preclusion, leaving no remaining genuine issues of material fact.  We concur with the district court’s partial summary judgment.  Carl raised several issues related to his motions for summary judgment but failed to prove he was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.  The trust declaration executed in 1977 specifically invoked the statutory precursors to both the prudent person standard and the Uniform Prudent Investor Act.  Our de novo review confirms that Carl breached his duties in failing to diversify the investments.  MaryBeth met her burden to prove a reasonable basis for her damages.  We find nothing clearly untenable or unreasonable in the district court’s attorney-fee award to MaryBeth.  Finding no supporting authority for the award of dissolution attorney fees or double and punitive damages, MaryBeth’s requests fail.

© 2024 Iowa Judicial Branch. All Rights Reserved.