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Case No. 20-1037

The Estate of Susan Farrell, by its Administrator, Jesse Farrell, and as Representative for the Claims of Jesse Farrell, Individually, Jesse Farrell, as Next Friend of R.F., a Minor, Margaret Renee Maschske, Individually, & Stephen Michalski, Individually
v.
State of Iowa, City of Waukee, Iowa, and City of West Des Moines, Iowa

The plaintiffs seek further review after the court of appeals reversed the district court’s ruling denying the defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings. The court of appeals found the public-duty doctrine applies to the plaintiffs’ claims against the defendants. The plaintiffs argue the court of appeals created a new “instrumentality of harm” test that conflicts with existing precedent. Even if the court of appeals’ new test is consistent with existing precedent, the plaintiffs argue the court of appeals still erred by finding that the duty breached by the government defendants was a “uniquely governmental duty.” Finally, the plaintiffs argue the public-duty doctrine should be abandoned.

County:
Polk

Applicant

The Estate of Susan Farrell, by its Administrator, Jesse Farrell, and as Representative for the Claims of Jesse Farrell, Individually, Jesse Farrell, as Next Friend of R.F., a Minor, Margaret Renee Maschske, Individually, & Stephen Michalski, Individually

Resister

State of Iowa, City of Waukee, Iowa, and City of West Des Moines, Iowa

Attorneys for the Applicant

Stehen D. Marso
Zachary J. Hermsen
Bryn E. Hazelwonder
James E. Andersen

Attorneys for the Resister

Robert M. Livingston
Kristopher K. Madsen
Apryl M. DeLange
Alex E. Grasso
Jessica A. Eglseder

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
20-1037
Date Published:
Nov 23, 2021
Summary

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Heather Lauber, Judge.  REVERSED AND REMANDED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., Greer, J., and Doyle, S.J.  Opinion by Greer, J.  (14 pages)

            On interlocutory appeal, the State of Iowa and the cities of West Des Moines and Waukee (Governmental Parties) challenge the district court’s ruling denying their motion for a judgment on the pleadings.  They argue the public-duty doctrine precludes them from liability on each of the claims made against them by the Farrell family.  OPINION HOLDS: Finding the public-duty doctrine applies to the claims against the Governmental Parties on all claims, we reverse the district court and remand for entry of judgment in favor of all Governmental Parties.

Other Information

Date Further Review is Granted:
Jan 28, 2022

View archived opinions from prior to November 2017

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