UPDATES & ANALYSIS

5.13

Iowa Supreme Court expected to release opinions in six cases Friday

by Rox Laird | May 13, 2021

Opinions in six cases are expected to be released by the Iowa Supreme Court Friday, May 14. 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.

Rieder v. Segal

 Argued Feb. 16, 2021

Issue: Was a hospital negligent for failing to revoke the privileges of a surgeon subject to an Iowa Board of Medicine investigation?

Mercy Medical Center Cedar Rapids seeks further review of a Sept. 2, 2020, Iowa Court of Appeals decision reversing the Linn County District Court‘s summary judgment dismissal of claims by Roxanne and Tony Rieder that the hospital should have revoked the credentials of David Segal M.D. after he informed the hospital he was under investigation by the Iowa Board of Medicine. The Rieders sued Mercy Cedar Rapids along with Segal and others after Roxanne developed complications following spine surgery performed by Segal. The Rieders subsequently dropped all defendants except Mercy. The Rieders claimed the hospital should have revoked Segal’s credentials in light of the Board of Medicine investigation. Mercy urges the Supreme Court to affirm the District Court. An amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief was filed in this case in support of the Plaintiff-Appellees by the Iowa Association of Justice.

State v. McGee

 Argued Dec. 16, 2020

Question: Is it constitutional to take a blood draw from an OWI suspect who is unconscious?

Brian McGee appeals his OWI conviction in Polk County District Court arguing that the warrantless blood draw was unconstitutional as he was unable to give consent because he was unconscious while under sedation at the hospital. McGee urges the Court to hold that a warrantless blood draw permitted under Iowa Code Section 321J.7 is unconstitutional. The statute provides that a person who is “dead, unconscious, or otherwise in a condition rendering the person incapable of consent or refusal is deemed not to have withdrawn the consent,” and the test may be given if a licensed physician or other medical professional certifies that the person is incapable of consent or refusal.

State v. Jordan

 Submitted to the Court April 14, 2021

Issue: Was a defendant’s appeal foreclosed by recent legislation barring direct appeals on claims of ineffective assistance of counsel?

Travis James Jordan seeks further review of a Nov. 4, 2020, Iowa Court of Appeals ruling dismissing Jordan’s appeal of his sentence by the Webster County District Court following his conviction of third-degree burglary. Jordan argued on appeal that his defense attorney provided ineffective assistance by failing to object at sentencing to the prosecutor’s alleged violation of a plea agreement. In dismissing Jordan’s appeal, the Court of Appeals held that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear the appeal because the District Court’s judgment and sentence were entered after legislation took effect barring direct appeals on claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Jordan argues that his appeal should be heard on his assertion that the State’s violation of the plea agreement violated his constitutional right to due process.

Luigi’s, Inc. v. United Fire and Casualty Co.

 Submitted to the Court Jan. 21, 2021.

Issue: Should a jury verdict have been directed in an insurer’s favor in a dispute over the value of a loss established under terms of the insurance policy?

United Fire and Casualty Co. appeals following a Fayette County District Court jury verdict in Luigi’s favor in its breach-of-contract claim against its insurer in which Luigi’s challenged the assessment of the value of the Oelwein restaurant destroyed by fire. United Fire argues the trial judge should have granted its motion for a directed verdict because the assessment of the restaurant’s value was established by an appraisal process provided for in the insurance contract. In the alternative, the company argues the District Court erred in submitting jury instructions that resulted in material prejudice to United Fire.

Barkalow v. Clark

 Argued April 14, 2021

Issues: Did a District Court err in dissolving a viable company, and in transforming capital into debt? On a cross-appeal, should dissolution of the company have been based on defendants’ oppression?

Bryan and Jeffrey Clark appeal a Johnson County District Court ruling dissolving a company owned jointly by the parties on the basis that it was not practicable to carry on the company’s business due to “acrimony” between Barkalow and the Clarks. The Clarks raise two issues on appeal: First, that the District Court erred in ordering dissolution of company, a viable and profitable enterprise, where the trial court’s ruling settled the members’ disputes; and, second, that the District Court “exceeded its statutory and equitable authority by transforming capital into debt and by setting ownership shares in contravention to the LLC documents.” The plaintiff-appellees Tracy Barkalow, et al., cross-appeal, arguing the District Court erred by not ordering dissolution of the company based on the defendants’ oppression and by not awarding Barkalow damages on his breach of fiduciary claim.

Rilea v. State

 Submitted to the Court March 23, 2021

Issue: Must the State refund fines collected from illegally issued traffic citations?

Rickie Rilea appeals the Polk County District Court’s summary judgment dismissal of his claim that the State of Iowa was unjustly enriched by collecting a traffic fine from a speeding ticket issued by an Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Enforcement Officer later determined by the Iowa Supreme Court to lack authority to issue such traffic citations. The Iowa Legislature subsequently amended the statute to authorize IDOT enforcement officers to enforce all state laws, but Rilea sought remedy for the State’s unjust enrichment in collecting the fine from him before the change. The District Court held that Rilea’s unjust enrichment claim was an improper collateral attack on his speeding ticket. Rilea, who seeks to certify his case as a class action for all others in his situation, urges the Supreme Court to hold that his action for unjust enrichment is not an improper collateral attack against his speeding conviction but an attempt to hold the State responsible for refunding decades of illegally collected fines, surcharges, and court costs.

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