UPDATES & ANALYSIS

3.11

Iowa Supreme Court expected to release opinions in five cases Friday

by Rox Laird | March 11, 2021

Opinions in five cases are expected to be released by the Iowa Supreme Court Friday, March 12. Following are On Brief’s previously published summaries of the cases. Go to On Brief’s Cases in the Pipeline page to read briefs filed with the Court in these appeals.

GreatAmerica Financial Services Corp. v. Natalya Rodionova Medical Care, P.C. (On Brief’s Dec. 11, 2020, summary here)

Submitted to the Court Dec. 15, 2020

Question: Does a company ratify a finance agreement with a forged signature by making seven monthly payments on the agreement?

[Disclosure: Plaintiff-appellee GreatAmerica Financial Services is represented in this case by Nyemaster Goode attorneys Randall Armentrout and Leslie C. Behaunek.]

GreatAmerica Financial Services seeks further review of an April 1 Iowa  Court of Appeals ruling reversing and remanding a Linn County District Court decision granting GreatAmerica’s motion for summary judgment on its claim that Natalya Rodionova Medical Care violated an equipment-financing agreement with GreatAmerica by attempting to cancel the agreement.

Natalya Rodionova argues a non-cancellation provision of the agreement is unenforceable because the signature on the agreement was forged; GreatAmerica counters that Natalya Rodionova ratified the agreement by making payments for seven months. A three-judge panel of the appeals court, with one dissent, held that the District Court erred in finding that GreatAmerica “proved ratification as a matter of law.”

Commerce Bank v. McGowen (On Brief’s Dec. 11, 2020, summary here)

 Argued Dec. 15, 2020

.Question: Is deferred compensation income exempt from garnishment to recover a debt?

Robert McGowen appeals a Polk County District Court ruling denying his motion to exempt from garnishment payments due to him from his employer’s deferred compensation plan. Commerce Bank obtained a $1.5 million judgment against McGowen in Minnesota and subsequently initiated collection by garnishment of his wages. McGowen argues that payments owed to him by his employer’s deferred compensation plan are exempt from garnishment under Iowa Code Section 627.6(8)(e) because his employer’s plan is a “pension, annuity, or similar plan or contract” that paid benefits “on account of illness, disability, death, age, or length of service.”

Jones v. Glenwood Golf Corp. (On Brief’s Dec. 11, 2020, summary here)

 Argued Dec. 16, 2020

Question: Did trial court incorrectly apply Iowa’s comparative fault statute?

Glenwood Golf Corp. appeals a Mills County District Court ruling granting Terry and Christine Jones’ motion for a new trial on the issue of damages awarded to plaintiff Terry Jones for his injuries in a golf cart accident on Glenwood’s golf course. Glenwood also appeals the denial of its motion for summary judgment, and the District Court’s application of Iowa’s comparative fault statute. A jury returned a verdict finding the driver of the cart 100% at fault and awarded plaintiff $500,000. The trial court subsequently reduced the award against Glenwood, as owner of the cart, to zero in light of the plaintiffs’ prior settlement with the driver for a larger amount.

In the interest of A.B. and I.B. (On Brief’s Feb. 12 summary here)

 Issue: Were a mother’s parental rights properly terminated?

Submitted to the Court Feb. 16

A mother identified by her initials Y.B. seeks further review of a Nov. 4, 2020, ruling by a divided Iowa Court of Appeals affirming a Mitchell County District Court ruling terminating her parental rights for her two children, A.B. and I.B. Two judges of the Court of Appeals supported affirming the trial court because the children cannot be returned to the mother’s care without exposing them to harm; a third judge dissented, arguing that because Y.B. had made “marked improvements” in her compliance with Department of Human Services expectations the trial court’s termination decision should be reversed.

In re C.Z. (On Brief’s Feb. 12 summary here)

Submitted to the Court Feb. 17

Issue: Challenge to termination of a father’s parental rights.

The father of a minor child and the State of Iowa appeal the termination of the father’s parental rights. The county attorney, guardian ad litem for the minor child, and intervenors filed a joint resistance to the petitions on appeal.

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