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Most Recent Court of Appeals Summaries

For summaries from opinions prior to August, 2018, view PDF versions here

Opinion Summaries

Case No. 18-2010:  State of Iowa v. Jack Deaton

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 18-2010

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Thomas Reidel, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Greer, J., and Potterfield, S.J.  Opinion by Potterfield, S.J.  (7 pages)

Jack Deaton appeals from his convictions for assault by using or displaying a dangerous weapon and assault causing bodily injury.  He argues there is insufficient evidence to support his conviction for assault with a dangerous weapon.  He also raises several claims of ineffective assistance, including that counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to move for a new trial on both counts based on the weight of the evidence being contrary to the verdicts and by failing to object to several portions of testimony.  OPINION HOLDS: Sufficient evidence supports Deaton’s conviction for assault by using or displaying a dangerous weapon.  The rest of Deaton’s claims, brought under the framework of ineffective assistance, are preserved for a postconviction-relief action.  We affirm Deaton’s convictions.  

Case No. 19-0156:  Manatt's Inc. v. Tanam Real Estate, LLC and Joseph J. Manatt

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0156

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Michael D. Huppert, Judge.  AFFIRMED ON APPEAL AND CROSS-APPEAL.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Mullins and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Mullins, J.  (11 pages)

            Joseph Manatt (Joe) and Tanam Real Estate, LLC, (Tanam) appeal a district court order granting a new trial.  Manatt’s Inc. cross-appeals, arguing the district court should have limited the new trial’s scope.  OPINION HOLDS: On our review of the record, we find there was substantial evidence to support the district court’s denial of Joe’s and Tanam’s motion for directed verdict on the breach-of-fiduciary-duty claim.  We also find the answers provided on the verdict form were inconsistent and cannot be harmonized in accordance with the evidence presented at trial.  Finally, the breach-of-fiduciary-duty and damages issues are not so distinct and separable to warrant retrial solely on damages. 

Case No. 19-0184:  State of Iowa v. Jay Steven Genthe

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0184

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Mark T. Hostager, District Associate Judge.  WRIT ANNULLED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Ahlers, J., and Potterfield, S.J.  Opinion by Potterfield, S.J.  (4 pages)

            Jay Genthe appeals from his sentence, including the order nunc pro tunc filed after the initial sentencing order.  Genthe understands the court’s second order to show the court reconsidered his sentence and maintains the court’s reconsideration was illegal because it was not done in accordance with Iowa Code section 903.2 (2019).  We treat Genthe’s appeal as a petition for writ of certiorari and grant the petition.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the district court did not err in its use of the order nunc pro tunc, we annul the writ.

Case No. 19-0465:  Christopher LeGear v. State of Iowa

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0465

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Kathleen A. Kilnoski, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., Greer, J., and Blane, S.J.  Opinion by Blane, S.J.  (14 pages)

            Applicant appeals the district grant of the State’s motion for summary dismissal of his third application for postconviction relief from his conviction of first-degree murder in 1982, based on being untimely, beyond the three-year statute of limitation in Iowa Code section 822.3 (2016) and there not being a new ground of fact or law.  OPINION HOLDS: The district court ruling is supported by the evidence and a correct application of law.  We affirm the dismissal.

Case No. 19-0542:  State of Iowa v. John Green

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0542

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Floyd County, Peter B. Newell, District Associate Judge, and Gregg R. Rosenbladt, Judge.  AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., Schumacher, J., and Gamble, S.J.  Opinion by Gamble, S.J.  (11 pages)

            John Green appeals his convictions for felon in possession of a firearm, possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, and two counts of failure to affix a drug tax stamp.  OPINION HOLDS: There is insufficient evidence Green constructively possessed a firearm or a bag of cocaine, both of which were found in the ceiling of a jointly occupied apartment.  So we reverse his convictions related to possession of the firearm and cocaine.  But we find sufficient evidence establishes Green constructively possessed marijuana with intent to deliver.  So we affirm his conviction for possession with intent to deliver marijuana and the corresponding conviction for failure to affix a drug tax stamp.

Case No. 19-0600:  Charles E. McBeth and Janet M. McBeth, Individually and as Trustees of the Charles E. McBeth and Janet M. McBeth Revocable Trust, dated September 13, 2012 v. Carolyn McBeth

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0600

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Wapello County, Shawn R. Showers, Judge.  AFFIRMED ON APPEAL; AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED ON CROSS-APPEAL.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Doyle and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Doyle, J.  (11 pages)

            Carolyn McBeth appeals the district court’s ruling in favor of Charles and Janet McBeth on their breach-of-contract claim, and Charles and Janet McBeth cross-appeal the adverse rulings in a replevin action.  OPINION HOLDS: I. Because clear and convincing evidence shows the parties agreed to new lease terms prior to the 2014 crop year, we affirm the finding that Charles and Janet are entitled to $388,756.50 in damages on their breach-of-contract claim.  II. The uncontroverted evidence establishes Charles’s ownership in the farm equipment listed in his replevin petition and the equipment listed in Carolyn’s counterclaim.  We reverse the portion of the district court’s order denying Charles’s replevin claim and remand to the district court to issue a writ of replevin for the seven items listed in the petition and contested on appeal or an order in replevin entering judgment against Carolyn for the value of the equipment.  Since not contested on appeal, that portion of the court’s order ordering the return to Charles of the John Deere 4440 tractor and the 2007 Caterpillar D6G bulldozer is affirmed.  We also reverse the portion of the court’s order finding in favor of Carolyn on her counterclaim and remove the $45,000 credit against the breach-of-contract judgment.

Case No. 19-0767:  Roxanne Rieder and Tony Rieder v. David Segal, M.D., Theodore Donta, M.D., PH.D, Eastern Iowa Brain and Spine Surgery, PLLC, Radiology Consultants of Iowa, PLC and Mercy Hospitals, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, d/b/a Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0767

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Ian K. Thornhill, Judge.  REVERSED AND REMANDED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Mullins and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Vaitheswaran, P.J.  (8 pages)

            Roxanne and Tony Rieder appeal the district court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of Mercy Medical Center.  The Rieders argue (1) “the peer review privilege is unreasonable when applied in negligent credentialing cases” and (2) the district court “fail[ed] to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the [Rieders],” “abused its discretion by weighing the evidence,” and “abused its discretion in excluding highly relevant evidence.”  OPINION HOLDS: Because the court was not allowed to weigh the evidence on summary judgment, we reverse the court’s second summary judgment ruling, and because the district court considered foreseeability in determining that Mercy did not owe the Rieders a duty, we also reverse the district court’s first, partial summary judgment ruling.  We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

Case No. 19-0808:  State of Iowa v. Wichang Gach Chawech

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0808

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Paul D. Scott, Judge.  SENTENCE VACATED AND REMANDED FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Vaitheswaran, P.J.  (5 pages)

            Wichang Chawech appeals the district court’s entry of judgment and sentence on his Alford guilty plea, contending his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to file a motion to suppress evidence gained in a warrantless search of his vehicle and challenge the factual basis for the plea.  OPINION HOLDS: We vacate the sentence and remand the case for further proceedings.

Case No. 19-0890:  State of Iowa v. Rodney C. Henricksen

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0890

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeffrey Farrell, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Doyle, P.J., Mullins, J., and Mahan, S.J.  Opinion by Mahan, S.J. (9 pages)

            Rodney Henricksen appeals his conviction of murder in the second degree, raising claims with regard to his justification defense and the admission of testimony from a lip-reading expert.  OPINION HOLDS: Upon our review, we affirm.

Case No. 19-0902:  Scott Rolenc v. Judith C. Rolenc, an Individual, Judith C. Rolenc, Successor Trustee of the Ronald C. Rolenc Revocable Trust, and Judith C. Rolenc, Trustee of the Judith C. Rolenc Revocable Trust, and Brian S. Mensen, Guardian and Conservator of Judith C. Rolenc, Ward

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0902

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Montgomery County, Craig M. Dreismeier, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Doyle and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Doyle, J.  (7 pages)

            Scott Rolenc appeals the ruling on his action for specific performance of a stock purchase agreement.  OPINION HOLDS: After considering Scott’s arguments, we conclude the district court properly interpreted the terms of the stock purchase agreement to apportion the sale of Ronald Rolenc’s shares of the corporation between Scott and Judith Rolenc and to require Judith to purchase Scott’s shares when he was terminated in July 2017. 

Case No. 19-0915:  In the Interest of G.H. and R.H., Minor Children

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0915

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Adams County, Dustria A. Relph, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, J.  (10 pages)

            A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to two children under Iowa Code chapter 600A (2019).  The father does not deny his failure to live up to his financial obligation to his children but instead claims good cause.  OPINION HOLDS: Because we find no merit in his claim that lack of employment and mental-health disorders prevented him from paying child support, we find clear and convincing evidence that Jeffrey failed to provide financial support without good cause.  And it was in the children’s best interests to terminate his parental rights.

Case No. 19-0975:  Daniel Ray Penticoff v. State of Iowa

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-0975

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Andrea J. Dryer, Judge.  AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and May and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  Dissent by May, J.  (12 pages)

            Daniel Penticoff appeals the district court’s summary dismissal of his postconviction-relief application as time-barred.  Penticoff argues his freestanding actual-innocence claim, based on Schmidt v. State, 909 N.W.2d 778 (Iowa 2018), falls under the “ground of fact or law” exception to the three-year limitations period of Iowa Code section 822.3 (2018).  OPINION HOLDS: We conclude Penticoff’s actual-innocence claim is a ground of law that Penticoff could not have raised within the limitations period.  We do not reach the merits of his actual-innocence claim but remand for further proceedings.  DISSENT ASSERTS: Penticoff’s claims are barred by Iowa Code section 822.3 (2018) because (1) Penticoff failed to demonstrate his claims are based a ground of fact or law that could not have been raised within the three years after he was sentenced; and (2) Penticoff failed to file his application within those three years.  The district court was right to dismiss Penticoff’s application.  I respectfully dissent.

Case No. 19-1088:  State of Iowa v. Douglas Kent Lindaman

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1088

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Floyd County, Peter B. Newell, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and May and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, P.J.  (16 pages)

            The defendant appeals his convictions for two counts of failure to comply with sex-offender-registry requirements.  OPINION HOLDS: No issue raised in either counsel’s brief or the defendant’s pro se briefing is meritorious.  So we affirm the convictions. 

Case No. 19-1148:  State of Iowa v. Dave A. Rutledge

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1148

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Tama County, Andrew Chappell, Judge.  AFFIRMED. Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Mullins and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J. (5 pages)

            Dave Rutledge appeals the amount of restitution imposed in his supplemental restitution order.  OPINION HOLDS: Rutledge may appeal from his supplemental restitution order.  However, the civil statute of limitations does not apply to his restitution order, and substantial evidence supports the amount of victim restitution imposed.

Case No. 19-1196:  Arthur Alan Poyner v. State of Iowa

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1196

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Craig M. Dreismeier, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Mullins, P.J., Ahlers, J., and Scott, S.J.  Opinion by Mullins, P.J.  (5 pages)

            Arthur Poyner appeals following the summary disposition of his application for postconviction relief.  OPINION HOLDS: Finding no cause for reversal on the issues properly presented for our review, we affirm the district court. 

Case No. 19-1222:  In re the Marriage of Mrla

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1222

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Jeffrey A. Neary, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Doyle, P.J., Mullins, J., and Vogel, S.J.  Opinion by Doyle, P.J.  (13 pages)

            Angela Mrla appeals from the property division decree entered after trial on remand from this court.  She challenges the decree in many respects.  OPINION HOLDS: Finding no merit to her arguments, we affirm.

Case No. 19-1301:  State of Iowa v. Brianna Kay Havemann

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1301

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Stuart P. Werling, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Vaitheswaran, P.J.  (5 pages)

Brianna Havemann appeals the district court’s denial of her motion to suppress, contending the deputy lacked reasonable suspicion to prolong the stop for further investigation of the presence of drugs in her vehicle.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the district court’s suppression ruling and Havemann’s judgment and sentence for possession of marijuana.

Case No. 19-1513:  State of Iowa v. Richard Austin Davis

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1513

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Tod Deck, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by Mullins, J.  (4 pages)

            Richard Davis appeals his drug conviction, challenging the denial of his motion to suppress.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the denial of Davis’s motion to suppress and his conviction.  

Case No. 19-1577:  In re the Marriage of Krug

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1577

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Iowa County, Chad A. Kepros, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., Greer, J., and Mahan, S.J.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (6 pages)

            Steven Krug appeals from the decree dissolving his marriage to Amy Krug.  He challenges the court’s decision to give Amy sole legal custody and physical care of the parties’ minor child, K.K.  He argues they should share joint legal custody and K.K. should be placed in his physical care.  He also challenges the court’s award of the marital home to Amy and, after providing no evidence of his own regarding the value of the home, complains of the district court’s valuation.  To correct that omission, Steven asks that we remand so more evidence about the value can be presented.  Steven argues the district court abused its discretion in ordering him to pay $10,000 of Amy’s attorney fees.  Amy asks that we affirm and requests that Steven pay $3000 of her appellate attorney fees.  OPINION HOLDS: The district court fully and carefully considered the facts and legal issues in the written decree, and we agree with its well-reasoned conclusions.  We affirm the district court’s decree and award Amy $3000 in appellate attorney fees.

Case No. 19-1594:  Delaine Petersen v. Kirk Huehn

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1594

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Carroll County, Gary McMinimee, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and May and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by May, J.  (7 pages)

            Delaine Petersen appeals an order granting Kirk Huehn’s motion for summary judgment.  OPINION HOLDS: Petersen has not shown the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Huehn on the basis of claim preclusion.  We affirm. 

Case No. 19-1600:  Doug Knotek v. Cynthia Mellin

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1600

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Kathleen A. Kilnoski, Judge.  AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED ON BOTH APPEALS AND REMANDED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and May and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (23 pages)

            Following the most recent modification of the order for child custody, visitation, and support, the mother, Cynthia Mellin, appeals the award of sole legal custody and physical care to the father of their twins, Doug Knotek.  She asserts Doug did not prove he could provide superior care for the children justifying a change in custody and physical care, the district court afforded too much weight to the findings of the child custody evaluator and, alternatively, Doug failed to preserve his appellate request for child support.  On cross-appeal, Doug complains the district court misunderstood his position on waiving the child-support obligation and requests appellate attorney fees.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the district court determination finding a change in circumstances warranting the grant of sole legal custody and physical care to Doug.  We modify the order to add more time to Cynthia’s visitation and to require counseling.  We remand for a hearing and determination of Cynthia’s child-support obligation.  We decline to award appellate attorney fees.

Case No. 19-1635:  REG Washington, LLC v. Warren Bush, William Horan, Taylor Schroeder, Charles & Angela Bush, Gary Soules, Linda Bush, and Tim Burrack

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1635

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Sac County, James M. Drew, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Doyle and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Doyle, J.  (4 pages)

            The defendants appeal the district court order granting summary judgment for REG Washington, LLC (REG) on its claim for restitution and dismissing their counterclaims.  OPINION HOLDS: REG is entitled to restitution for the payments it made to purchase the defendants’ units of ownership in Iowa Renewable Energy (IRE) because IRE’s board of directors refused to approve the transfer.  The defendants failed to present the necessary evidence in support of their counterclaims.

Case No. 19-1791:  State of Iowa v. Terrance Lee Clopton

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1791

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, John G. Linn, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and May and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J.  (7 pages)

            Terrance Lee Clopton appeals his convictions for possessing a firearm as a felon and carrying a concealed weapon.  He challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting both convictions.  OPINION HOLDS: Clopton failed to preserve error on his challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence on the concealed-weapon conviction, and we do not address it.  A witness testified Clopton was in actual possession of a handgun, which provides sufficient evidence to support the felon-in-possession conviction.

Case No. 19-1846:  In re the Marriage of Sullins

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1846

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Robert J. Blink, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Vaitheswaran, P.J.  (3 pages)

            Ray Sullins appeals the district court’s denial of his renewed sanctions motion.  OPINION HOLDS: We discern no abuse of discretion in the court’s conclusion, and we affirm.

Case No. 19-1890:  Reva Sue Gonzalez v. Christane Laboy

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1890

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Ian K. Thornhill, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Mullins and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Mullins, J.  (4 pages)

            Reva Gonzalez appeals the denial of her petition for entry of a protective order under Iowa Code chapter 236 (2019).  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the denial of Gonzalez’s petition for a protective order on the basis that she failed to meet the appropriate burden of proof.

Case No. 19-1916:  David Eugene Maddox v. State of Iowa

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-1916

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Jeffrey L. Larson, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Doyle and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Schumacher, J.  (8 pages)

            David Maddox filed a second application for postconviction relief (PCR) 121 days after procedendo issued following the appeal of his first PCR trial.  The district court granted the State’s motion for summary dismissal of the application, finding the application did not comply with the limitation period set forth in Iowa Code section 822.3 (2019) and that the narrow exception to section 822.3 carved out in Allison v. State, 914 N.W.2d 866, 890–91 (Iowa 2018), was unavailable because Maddox delayed 121 days after procedendo in filing the application.  OPINION HOLDS: The 121-day delay between procedendo and the filing of Maddox’s second PCR application was over twice as long as the analogous period in Allison that the Iowa Supreme Court found to constitute prompt filing.  We affirm the district court’s order refusing to apply Allison’s narrow exception.

Case No. 19-2031:  Andrew Lee Lesher v. Taylor Noelle Hansen

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-2031

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Wright County, Colleen D. Weiland, Judge.  AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and May and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (10 pages)

            Andrew Lesher and Taylor Hansen are the never-married parents of G.H., who was born in the summer of 2018.  In February 2019, Andrew filed a petition for paternity, custody, and visitation.  Each parent asked the court to award them physical care of G.H.  Following a two-day hearing in September 2019, the district court gave Andrew physical care of G.H. and awarded Taylor visitation with him.  On appeal, Taylor maintains she should be given physical care of G.H.  Andrew cross-appealed; he urges us to leave G.H. in his physical care and asks that we change G.H.’s surname to “Lesher” or, in the alternative, “Lesher-Hansen.”  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the district court ruling giving Andrew physical care of G.H.  And because we agree with the district court that Andrew was asking for a name change rather than an initial name determination, Andrew’s only option to do so was under the guidelines of Iowa Code chapter 674 (2019). We affirm on both appeals.

Case No. 19-2084:  Junk Brothers Land and Cattle v. Buchanan County, Iowa

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 19-2084

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Buchanan County, Bradley J. Harris, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Mullins and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J.  (6 pages)

            Junk Brothers Land and Cattle (Junk Brothers) appeals the district court ruling dismissing its petition for breach of contract and entering judgment on Buchanan County’s counterclaim for breach of contract regarding a lease to pasture land entered by the parties.  On appeal, Junk Brothers argues the lease was voidable because there was no meeting of the minds between it and the county due to a mutual mistake as to the condition of the fence when the lease was signed.  OPINION HOLDS: We do not reach the merits of this argument because we find two issues alluded to in the district court’s ruling, but not addressed in the parties’ briefs, are dispositive, namely error preservation and judicial estoppel against inconsistent positions. We affirm.

Case No. 20-0078:  John R. Berding v. Menards, Inc.

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0078

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, DeDra L. Schroeder, Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and Doyle and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Schumacher, J.  (7 pages)

            John Berding appeals from the dismissal of his petition based on failure to comply with Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.302(5).  OPINION HOLDS: Berding argues the district court erred by granting Menards, Inc.’s motion to dismiss for failure to serve the defendant within ninety days after the filing of his petition.  Because we agree with the district court’s determination that Berding failed to demonstrate good cause in delaying service, we affirm the dismissal.

Case No. 20-0228:  In re the Marriage of Milne

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0228

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mary E. Howes, Judge.  AFFIRMED AS MODIFIED AND REMANDED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, J.  Partial Dissent by Vaitheswaran, P.J.  (28 pages)

            An ex-husband, Jeff Milne, appeals the decree dissolving his marriage.  He challenges the court’s grant of joint legal custody and joint physical care to him and his ex-wife, Alyssa Milne.  He also challenges the spousal-support, child-support, and economic aspects of the decree.  Alyssa cross appeals the issues of joint physical care, the property division, and child support.  She also contends the decree is null and void because the judge retired the day before filing it.  OPINION HOLDS: First, because the Iowa Supreme Court assigned the retiring judge to temporary service under a provision of Iowa Code, she had the authority to enter the decree, which is valid.  We modify the decree to grant sole legal custody of the parties’ two children to Jeff along with physical care.  We remand to the district court to enter new orders on visitation and to recalculate child support payments.  Accordingly, we do not address the appeal issues pertaining to child support.  But we modify the spousal support payment by reducing it to account for Alyssa’s continuing capacity to earn a significant salary.  We affirm other economic aspects of the decree.  The parties will pay their own attorney fees, with costs taxed to Jeff.  PARTIAL DISSENT ASSERTS: I respectfully dissent from those portions of the majority opinion granting Jeff sole legal custody and physical care of the children. 

Case No. 20-0498:  In the Interest of B.D., S.W., and L.W., Minor Children

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0498

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED ON BOTH APPEALS.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and May and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Bower, C.J.  (10 pages)

            The father of S.W. and L.W. and the mother of B.D., S.W., and L.W. separately appeal the termination of their parental rights.  The father challenges the court’s finding that termination of his parental rights is in the children’s best interests.  The mother asserts the grounds for termination have not been met, termination of her parental rights is not in the children’s best interests, and she should have been granted a six-month extension because she was deprived of requested increased visitation.  Both parents claim a statutory exception should preclude termination of their parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: Finding no reason to disturb the termination order, we affirm on both appeals.

Case No. 20-0562:  In the Interest of B.F., B.L., and B.L., Minor Children

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0562

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Tabor, J.  (7 pages)

            A mother, Katie, appeals the termination of her parental relationship to her three children: B.F., Ba.L., and Bl.L.  Katie argues the juvenile court erred in refusing to grant her an additional six months to work toward recovery and returning her children to her care.  She also challenges two statutory grounds for termination and contends the State failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that her parental rights should be terminated pursuant to Iowa Code section 232.116(1) (2019), paragraphs (f) and (h).  Lastly, Katie argues termination is not in the children’s best interests.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the record reflects a history of repeated unsuccessful attempts at treatment, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that a need for removal will not exist in six months to justify an extension.  Also, Katie does not challenge, and therefore waives, any error related to the court’s finding the State proved the grounds for termination under section 232.116(1)(l).  Further, based on the significant mental-health challenges the children have already faced, we find the State showed, pursuant to section 232.116(2), that termination is in the children’s best interests.  Finally, no factor under section 232.116(3) warrants delaying termination.  We affirm the decision of the juvenile court.

Case No. 20-0573:  In the Interest of A.R., M.T., I.T., L.M., and M.M., Minor Children

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0573

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jasper County, Steven J. Holwerda, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (10 pages)

            The mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her five children, A.R., M.T., I.T., L,M., and M.M., who ranged in ages from nine to one years old, respectively, at the time of the March 2020 termination hearing.  The juvenile court terminated her rights under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(b), (e), (f), and (h) (2020).  On appeal, the mother challenges the statutory grounds for termination, argues the loss of her rights is not in the children’s best interests, and maintains termination would harm the children so the parent-child relationships should be saved.  Alternatively, she maintains she should be given six more months to work toward reunification.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the termination of the mother’s parental rights to all five children.

Case No. 20-0832:  In the Interest of K.O., Minor Child

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0832

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox, District Associate Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Vaitheswaran, P.J.  (4 pages)

            A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to a child born in 2018.  He contends (1) “[t]he District Court failed to apply the clear and convincing evidence standard when finding the underlying facts in its decision to terminate parental rights as required by Iowa Code 232.117(2) and (3)” (2019) and (2) the State failed to prove “a nexus between [his] struggles and his ability and willingness to be a safe parent.”  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the termination of the father’s parental rights. 

Case No. 20-0854:  In the Interest of J.H., Minor Child

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0854

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Susan Cox, District Associate Judge.  REVERSED AND REMANDED.  Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by Mullins, J.  Dissent by Greer, J.  (10 pages)

            A father appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child.  He challenges the sufficiency of evidence supporting the statutory ground for termination and argues termination is contrary to the child’s best interests.  OPINION HOLDS: We conclude the State failed to provide clear and convincing evidence to allow termination under Iowa Code section 232.116(1)(g) (2019).  We reverse the termination of the father’s parental rights and remand for dismissal of the termination petition as to him.  DISSENT ASSERTS: I respectfully dissent.  I would affirm the juvenile court decision to terminate the father’s parental rights because I believe the State showed by clear and convincing evidence that this father is unable to provide a safe long-term environment for this child.  The tipping point for me is the lack of involvement in the basic medical care of this young child who has a life-long medical condition.

Case No. 20-0880:  In the Interest of W.L., Minor Child

Filed Sep 02, 2020

View Opinion No. 20-0880

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Wapello County, William Owens, Associate Juvenile Judge.  AFFIRMED.  Considered by Bower, C.J., and May and Ahlers, JJ.  Opinion by Ahlers, J.  (7 pages)

            A father appeals the termination of his parental right to his minor child.  On appeal, the father argues: (1) he should be given additional time to work toward reunification; (2) terminating the father’s parental rights is not in W.L.’s best interest; and (3) the juvenile court should have placed W.L. in the guardianship of W.L.’s paternal grandmother instead of terminating the father’s parental rights.  OPINION HOLDS: The juvenile court properly declined to grant the father a six-month extension.  The juvenile court further correctly concluded termination is in W.L.’s best interest.  Finally, the record indicates the grandmother is not a suitable placement for W.L.  We affirm.

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