UPDATES & ANALYSIS

5.20

Iowa Supreme Court expected to release opinions in four cases Friday

by Rox Laird | May 20, 2021

Opinions in four cases are expected to be released by the Iowa Supreme Court Friday, May 21. Following are On Brief’s previously published summaries of three of those cases. Go to On Brief’s Cases in the Pipeline page to read briefs filed with the Court in these appeals. (An opinion in a fourth case expected to be released, In re A.W., 20-1406, is an appeal of a Polk County Juvenile Court order adjudicating A.W. as a child in need of assistance.)

In the Matter of the Guardianship and Conservatorship of Marvin M. Jorgensen

Argued April 15, 2021

Issue: Did the District Court exceed its authority in modifying farm leases?

[Disclosure: Nyemaster Goode attorneys Jay Syverson, Leslie Behaunek, and Keith Duffy represent the primary beneficiary for Marvin M. Jorgensen’s Estate, The Mayo Clinic, and sought to intervene or in the alternative file an amicus curiae brief in this appeal following Marvin’s passing.]

Mark Jorgensen, Michael Jorgensen, and the guardian ad litem for their now-deceased father (with the guardian ad litem representing the Estate of the decedent on appeal) seek further review of a Nov. 30, 2020, Iowa Court of Appeals ruling affirming in part and reversing in part an Audubon District Court decision regarding Family Farm Leases entered into by a conservator on behalf of Marvin M. Jorgensen. Roxann Wheatley—one of Marvin’s children—and family members Rick and Dallas Wheatley appealed a District Court decision approving Family Farm Leases. Mark, Michael, and the GAL/Estate in their petitions for further review urge the Supreme Court to clarify a conservator’s statutory obligations and the District Court’s authority to approve below-market-rate leases, among other issues raised in this case.

Ryan Koster v. Harvest Bible Chapel and Garth Glenn

Argued March 24, 2021

Issue: Was a pastor’s disclosure of a congregant’s confidential information an invasion of privacy?

Ryan Koster appeals a Scott County District Court’s dismissal on summary judgment of Koster’s suit against Harvest Bible Chapel and Pastor Garth Glenn. Glenn sent emails to fellow pastors, staff, and members of Koster’s church group that included intimate details about Koster’s marriage obtained in confidence. Koster sued Glenn for breach of a fiduciary relationship, invasion of privacy, and defamation. He made a claim of vicarious liability against Harvest Bible Chapel. The trial court held that communications made within a church between congregants are privileged under the U.S. Constitution.

Liquor Bike v. Polk County District Court

Argued April 14, 2021.

Issue: Should a lawyer and his firm be disqualified for an ethical conflict?

Liquor Bike LLC appeals a Polk County District Court order disqualifying Liquor Bike’s attorney Billy Mallory and his firm of Brick Gentry from representation of Liquor Bike in a real estate boundary dispute with the owner of a neighboring property. The District Court also prohibited Mallory and Brick Gentry from discussing the dispute with Liquor Bike or its new counsel. The plaintiff in that action argued in its motion to disqualify that Mallory and Brick Gentry were conflicted because another lawyer in the firm represents the plaintiff in an unrelated legal matter. Liquor Bike argues in response that in both matters Brick Gentry represents separate real estate entities owned by Dr. Eugene Cherny, not Cherny himself, so there is no conflict. In the alternative, should the Supreme Court affirm the District Court, Liquor Bike urges the Court to strike the part of the District Court’s order prohibiting the firm’s attorneys from discussing the dispute with Liquor Bike or its replacement counsel, thus allowing Mallory to consult with the new counsel on the underlying litigation.

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