By: Kristine A. Tidgren December 1, 2016
In a case study of the balance of governmental powers, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled this month that local ordinances passed by three Hawaii Counties to ban the cultivation of GM (genetically modified) plants were preempted by state and federal law. The cases have been around for almost as long as the ordinances. In 2013 and 2014 the Counties of Kauai, Hawaii, and Maui enacted ordinances to stop the growing of GE plants within their jurisdictions. The counties...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren November 30, 2016
The November 8, 2016, election will be long-remembered. Although the result was surprising to many, it was largely driven by rural Americans seeking change to the status quo. But, what will a new Administration actually mean for rural America? If this election taught us anything, it taught that predictions aren’t often worth a whole lot.  Even so, as the dust settles, it may be helpful to consider the potential impact of the election on several major policy issue facing agriculture. In the days...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren November 23, 2016
The Iowa Court of Appeals today affirmed a half a million dollar judgment against Prestage Farms in a neighboring landowner’s nuisance lawsuit alleging that the company’s hog confinement substantially deprived her of the comfortable use and enjoyment of her property.[i] The jury awarded the landowner damages of $100,000 for loss of past enjoyment, $300,000 for loss of future enjoyment, and $125,000 for diminution of property value. In rendering its nuisance verdict, the jury found that Prestage...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren November 18, 2016
I’ve called it the “Hokey-Pokey” law. The California Legislature passed AB 1437 in 2010 to make it a crime to sell a shelled egg in California if that egg came from a hen confined in a cage that did not allow it to “lie down, stand up, fully extend its limbs, and turn around freely” (hence the Hokey-Pokey reference). The law, which was effective January 1, 2015, stemmed from Proposition 2, a 2008 California ballot initiative requiring all California egg producers to raise their hen-laying eggs...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren November 10, 2016
Larry died intestate, survived by his third wife and sons from a previous marriage. So begins a recent opinion from the Iowa Court of Appeals.  The word intestate often signals difficulty, but it can mean special difficulty when it's found in the same sentence as third wife and sons from a previous marriage. Life can get complicated. A recent Iowa Court of Appeals decision illustrates why estate planning in these complicated situations is especially important. The facts in this case were...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren October 28, 2016
The Iowa Supreme Court today issued an opinion clarifying the reach of Iowa Const. art. I, § 24. The Court ruled that the provision does not apply to lands suitable for agricultural purposes if only an incidental portion of the land is used for farming purposes. Iowa Const. art. I, § 24 states: No lease or grant of agricultural lands, reserving any rent, or service of any kind, shall be valid for a longer period than twenty years. The land at issue was 300 acres (only a a portion of which was...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren October 20, 2016
Last year, the Iowa Department of Revenue unveiled a new form for claiming the Iowa Capital Gain Deduction. IA 100 was designed to collect key information up-front, rather than after the fact, regarding transactions qualifying for the rather unique Iowa deduction. The change was met with some concern and confusion, particularly among taxpayers (and preparers) reporting transactions involving cattle, horses, or breeding livestock (by far the most common trigger for the deduction). But, rest...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren October 14, 2016
This morning, the Iowa Supreme Court issued an opinion clarifying that an at-will contract with an independent contractor can be unilaterally modified prospectively, upon reasonable notice. A proposal for modification effectively terminates the original contract and offers new terms for acceptance. The modification can be accepted by performance or the contract terminates. This is the same rule that has applied in Iowa for at-will employment contracts. Last year, however, the Iowa Court of...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren October 13, 2016
A case decided yesterday by the Iowa Court of Appeals highlights a general, yet important principle governing Iowa easements: Once a valid easement has been created and the servient landowner justly compensated, the continued use of the easement must not place a greater burden on the servient estate than was contemplated at the time of formation. In the case at hand, the court affirmed a district court ruling finding that the City of Bettendorf violated that principle by initiating a new...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren October 11, 2016
During this election season, we’ve had a number of questions regarding what the candidates' tax proposals would mean for typical taxpayers, particularly farmers. In this post, I’ll provide a high level summary of several of the key provisions proposed by the two major candidates. Because both tax plans lack key details, it is impossible to assess the actual impacts of the provisions if they were enacted. Rather, this high level overview is designed merely to objectively review several of the...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren September 28, 2016
A case from the Iowa Court of Appeals today highlights a little provision in an Iowa wind energy agreement that may have killed a contract for the sale of farmland.  This case should remind anyone negotiating a wind energy agreement to understand the provisions and their consequences before you sign the agreement. The defendants in this case owned 149 acres in Dickinson County. In 2009, they entered into a wind energy lease and agreement with a wind company, and the wind company constructed a...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren September 27, 2016
Last Friday, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The guidance, which was issued in the form of a 2015 Memorandum, required farm supply companies selling anhydrous ammonia to--for the first time--comply with a complex safety program designed to protect workers from highly hazardous chemicals. Background OSHA is tasked with protecting the health and safety of Americans in the workplace. In...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren September 15, 2016
We’ve discussed in past articles the difficulties that can arise when parents leave farmland to their children as tenants in common. Several sibling may wish to sell, others may wish to keep the land in the family. This type of disposition often leads to unfortunate fighting and lengthy litigation. And that’s just what happened in a case for which the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an opinion yesterday. Facts Three siblings inherited approximately 300 acres of farmland--including a multi-...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren September 13, 2016
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a big win to CAFO owners last Friday when it ruled that the EPA abused its discretion by concluding that the release of personal information about CAFO owners would not invade substantial privacy interests. Background The case arose when three organizations—Earthjustice, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Natural Resources Defense Council—filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking detailed records about confined animal feeding...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren September 6, 2016
It is well-known that fewer people in the United States are getting married. In fact, according to the CDC, marriage rates in the United States have been in a steady decline since the 1980s. Conversely, cohabitation rates are steadily rising. A recent case from the Iowa Court of Appeals reminds us that sometimes a cohabitation relationship can lead to a common-law marriage. This means that when the relationship ends, a party can seek standard dissolution remedies such as alimony or an equitable...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren August 26, 2016
During the past several years it often seemed like the day would never come. But Monday, August 29, the new FAA rule for integrating small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the U.S. airspace is effective. The rule applies to all UAS weighing less than 55 pounds (sUAS) that are flown for commercial (not hobby) purposes. Any farming use falls into the commercial-use category. Operators can continue to fly a sUAS for fun without permission from the FAA. All sUAS operators, however, must...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren August 24, 2016
  Updates: August 29: The Polk County District Court denied the landowners' request for a stay. Read the order here. August 26: IUB denied the landowners' request for a stay. The temporary stay, however, will remain in place through Monday to allow the landowners an opportunity to file a new action with the district court. Read the order here. Just next door to the location of next week’s Farm Progress show (and across Iowa), Dakota Access is working to construct its pipeline to transport crude...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren August 10, 2016
It was the wrong procedural posture to create new law. But a recent case from the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut has some interesting discussion regarding limits to the FAA’s right to regulate airspace. The case arose because an enterprising UAV owner posted two YouTube videos under the username “Hogwit.” The videos went viral and caught the attention of the FAA. The first video was a 14-second clip showing a hovering UAV firing an attached handgun. The second was...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren August 9, 2016
First some context. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 has ensured that only a select few pay any estate taxes in America. To be liable for estate tax in 2016, for example, you must die with more than $5.45 million in assets.  The news gets better for married taxpayers. With the implementation of permanent “portability,” spouses can essentially share their combined exclusions, meaning that they should be able to avoid any transfer taxes for up to $10.9 million in combined assets. That...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren August 1, 2016
A case from the Iowa Court of Appeals last week should warn attorneys and clients that they must remain on the same page during settlement negotiations. If they don’t, the result can be bad…both for the client and the attorney. The background facts are summarized in these short sentences from the co­­urt’s opinion: Atellia Kinzenbaw died testate, leaving one-sixth shares of the family farm to six of her children. [Editorial Comment: A discussion for another day!]. Doyle was one of the six...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren July 27, 2016
Overview The Iowa Court of Appeals issued its opinion today in the seemingly never-ending Baur Farms litigation. The court affirmed the district court’s order, which dismissed the minority shareholder’s lawsuit seeking to dissolve the corporation on grounds of “shareholder oppression.” This case was before the district court on remand after the Iowa Supreme Court issued its key 2013 ruling setting forth the new Iowa standard for minority shareholder oppression in the context of a closely-held...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren July 25, 2016
By now you’ve probably read about the Pennsylvania woman who was recently sentenced to prison for various crimes stemming from her decades-long scam of posing as a lawyer. She had no law license and had never gone to law school, yet she practiced tax and estate law for 10 years, even becoming a partner of her small firm in rural Pennsylvania and president of her local bar association. Which, of course, begs the question, “How was this possible?” Apparently, no one during that 10-year period—not...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren July 14, 2016
Note: President Obama signed this legislation on July 29, 2016. It’s legislation that completely satisfies no one. However, to the majority of lawmakers, it is a better choice than the prospect of food manufacturers, producers, and retailers facing 50 different standards for disclosing the presence of genetically engineered ingredients in food. As such, S.764 garnered enough support to easily pass the House today, 306-117. This followed passage of the bill in the Senate last week by a vote of...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren June 30, 2016
When a court orders a farm lease to continue in light of a contentious relationship, additional litigation is likely to ensue. And that's just what happened in a case decided by the Iowa Court of Appeals yesterday. The case involved a tenant who had farmed his mother’s ground before she died. After her death, the land was passed to a family trust, of which the tenant was a co-trustee. Disagreements arose amongst the three co-trustees, and lawsuits were filed. The trial court ultimately ruled in...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren June 30, 2016
Barring unexpected immediate Congressional action, Vermont Act 120, the nation’s first mandatory GMO labeling law, will go into effect tomorrow. What does this mean for the rest of the nation? Most likely it means that we will see preemptive federal GMO labeling legislation in place by at least year-end . The new Vermont law requires all food produced from “an organism in which genetic material has been changed” to be labeled. If that food is sold by a retailer, an “easily found” label must...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren June 29, 2016
No, the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit has not been settled! Rather, the Iowa Court of Appeals today issued an opinion interpreting a section of Iowa drainage law and determining that it imposes no legal duties on a county board of supervisors. In 2014, a landowner complained to his county board of supervisors that a county road was “damming up water” on his property north of the road. The road had “at some point in time” been altered, and bridges or wooden culverts that originally allowed the...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren June 15, 2016
The Iowa Court of Appeals—while denying a minority owner’s request to have his family LLC dissolved—breathed life back into his quest to receive “fair value” for his 27% ownership interest. The court reversed a trial court order that had directed the brother to transfer his interest in the LLC to the other two owners for no consideration. Background The LLC was formed shortly after three siblings in 2003 inherited property from their parents. The plaintiff sisters each invested $342,041 to form...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren May 27, 2016
A federal bankruptcy case has been shaping interpretation of the Iowa agricultural supply dealer lien statute since the operator of a farrow-to-finish hog facility declared bankruptcy in 2009. Today, the Iowa Supreme Court issued its second opinion in this case,[i] answering two key certified questions in this drawn out litigation. The answers to the two certified questions—which uphold the decision from the bankruptcy court--further refine the contours of the ag supply dealer lien established...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren May 13, 2016
This week, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued two opinions analyzing farm leases. We told you Wednesday about a most interesting case where the court held that a residential acreage tenant with a single horse was entitled to September 1 statutory termination notice. Although the second farm lease case of the week is less surprising, it’s helpful to review. The court analyzed several common farm lease provisions, and the court's analysis is useful to both producers and their advisors. Background...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren May 11, 2016
In a most interesting case from the Iowa Court of Appeals today, the letter of the law prevailed, and the court ruled that a single, 38-year-old grazing horse was all that was needed to create a “farm tenancy.” Thus, the court found that landlords were required to send statutory termination notice by September 1 to properly terminate a lease for a residential acreage (less than 40 acres) where the only "agricultural activity" was one grazing horse. The parties in the case had been warring for a...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 28, 2016
A recent case from the Iowa Court of Appeals shines the spotlight on Iowa’s private condemnation statute, Iowa Code § 6A.4(2). The statute, which takes some people by surprise,[i] grants private landowners a narrow power of eminent domain to acquire an access route to a landlocked parcel. The Iowa case, Middle River Farms, LLC v. Antrim,[ii] demonstrates the importance of “firming up” casual rights of way. It also shows the discretion possessed by a trial court in granting an access route...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 18, 2016
Last week, the Iowa Legislature enacted new legislation to require that an agreement to terminate a farm lease be in writing. The Governor signed HF 2344 into law on April 13, 2016. This simple change better aligns Iowa's farm lease termination statute with legislative intent and court-declared policy and may prevent unnecessary court battles. It has long been the case in Iowa that, absent an agreement to terminate a farm lease, a farm tenant or a landlord must abide by strict statutory notice...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 14, 2016
The multidistrict Syngenta litigation, which is now deep in discovery for the first bellwether trial, saw several important developments last week. Judge Lungstrum entered several orders worth noting. Grain Exporters’ Motion to Dismiss Third-Party Complaint and Counterclaims First, on April 4, the court granted the motion of ADM, Cargill, and Rail Transfer to dismiss the third-party claims and counterclaims Syngenta had filed against them last November. Syngenta had claimed in its third-party...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 8, 2016
If there’s a takeaway sentence from the latest Iowa Court of Appeals decision to analyze a breach of warranty claim, it is this: The doctrine of unconscionability…does not rescue people from bad bargains. In other words, be careful what you sign, it could come back to bite you. In this case, the plaintiff was a sodding and turf business operated by an owner with more than four decades of experience. He purchased an irrigation system from a dealer, which , in turn, obtained the system from a...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 7, 2016
A case from the Iowa Court of Appeals yesterday demonstrates the need for clear contractual language in farm leases. Some may say this principle is important even when family members are involved. This case demonstrates the importance of this principle especially when family members are involved.  The case before the court involved the interpretation of a 10-year crop-share lease. The son, who had five siblings, was the tenant, and the landlord was a family farm corporation. The father was the...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 5, 2016
The drainage districts in the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) lawsuit have now filed their second motion for partial summary judgment. Last fall, they asked the judge to rule in their favor as a matter of law on DMWW’s state law tort claims, such as nuisance and negligence. Several questions of Iowa law raised by that motion are currently pending as certified questions before the Iowa Supreme Court. Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Counts One and Two On April 1 (one month after completing...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 31, 2016
The 2016 Iowa Legislative Session is still underway, but many bills have already become law this session. Most of the high profile debate has centered on school funding, water quality, and tax coupling, which we have written about extensively. Along the way, however, several lesser-known bills impacting agriculture have found their way to the Governor’s desk and he has signed them into law. Following is a short summary of several new Iowa laws that impact agriculture to some degree. Beef...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 17, 2016
Ambiguous wills often lead to unfortunate family disputes.  And such a dispute came before the Iowa Court of Appeals recently. Although the disagreement arose because of a seemingly ambiguous section in their mother’s will, the fight between a brother and sister came before the court as a claim for adverse possession.To understand this dispute, it is helpful to see the portion of the mother’s will that fueled it (the relevant portions have been bolded for effect): ARTICLE THREE 1. I give all of...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 10, 2016
The Iowa Utilities Board voted 3-0 today to grant a hazardous liquid pipeline permit to Dakota Access, LLC under Iowa Code § 479B. The Board determined that the project would “promote the public necessity and convenience” as is required by the law. Dakota Access filed its petition seeking the permit in January of 2015. They wish to build a 346-mile crude oil pipeline (30 inches in diameter) across Iowa. The pipeline would carry oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to a refining...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 10, 2016
Yesterday, the Iowa Court of Appeals granted a new trial to an excavation company in a trespass action. At trial, the jury found the excavation company liable for $118,900 in damages for trespassing onto a farmer’s property and clearing trees and brush from a 12-foot wide strip of his fence row.  The new trial was not granted because of any question as to the actual trespass. That had been admitted at trial. Rather, the court was concerned that the defendant was prejudiced by evidence that the...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 1, 2016
Welcome to March 1, a day with much significance for farmers. Farm Tax Returns Due March 1st is the deadline for farmers and fishermen to file their income tax returns and pay their taxes if they want to avoid an underpayment of estimated tax penalty. While this deadline still holds for federal taxes the year, the Iowa Department of Revenue has extended the deadline to April 30 for Iowa returns and taxes. Because April 30 is a Saturday, this means a May 2 deadline for farmers to file their Iowa...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren February 28, 2016
Parents often make lifetime gifts to their children, often as part of a farm or business transition planning strategy.  These gifts often come under great scrutiny when the party receiving the gift is divorced from his or her spouse. During the dissolution proceeding, the spouse often argues that the gifted property should be subject to a fair division between the parties. The family members who gave the gift are often called to testify that they intended only their son or daughter to receive...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren February 23, 2016
In a divided 2-1 opinion, a three-judge panel ruled yesterday that the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has original jurisdiction to determine the validity of the Clean Water Rule. The opinion followed oral argument in December on the question of whether Congress intended circuit courts or district courts to have original jurisdiction in a case such as this. Petitioners from around the country, including states and industry groups, have challenged the validity of the new...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren February 11, 2016
Although recent talk of eminent domain has centered on high profile projects such as the Dakota Access pipeline, a less discussed provision of Iowa law confers a narrow power of eminent domain upon private citizens in certain cases where a landowner has a “land locked” parcel. A recent case from the Iowa Court of Appeals details how this law is applied. Iowa Code § 6A.4(2) confers the right to take private property for public use “upon the owner or lessee of lands, which have no public or...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren January 26, 2016
This month has seen several important developments in the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) lawsuit against drainage districts in three northwest Iowa counties. On January 11, Judge Bennett ruled that the Iowa Supreme Court should decide four questions of Iowa law implicated by the lawsuit's tort and constitutional claims. Consequently, he certified these questions to the Iowa Supreme Court. Primarily, Iowa's highest court is asked to decide whether the claims for tort damages and equitable relief...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren January 26, 2016
In Iowa we see a large variation in the way farm leases are structured. Many are oral, one-year leases that automatically renew from year to year. Others are written, five-year leases that must be recorded. And still others have their own unique approach. The Iowa Supreme Court recently reviewed one such lease and found it constitutionally infirm. Article I, section 24 of the Iowa Constitution states that no lease of agricultural lands “shall be valid for a longer period than twenty years.”...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren January 22, 2016
A recent case from the Iowa Court of Appeals should again remind landowners to protect their boundaries or lose them. The plaintiffs brought their action to establish a disputed boundary. Since at least 1992 (and possibly 1982), the parties’ properties had been separated by a fence that was approximately 33 feet from the actual survey line. The fence, which was maintained by the parties, encroached upon the plaintiffs’ land. When the defendants began to sell their property, the plaintiffs...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren January 19, 2016
As March 1 approaches, many landlords will see new tenants farming their property. Others will face lingering disputes from last crop year. This is a good time to review several important rights and obligations of landlords and tenants under Iowa farm leases. While these rights and obligations are primarily determined by the terms of a written lease, general legal principles apply to all Iowa leases. This article addresses several issues that often arise this time of year. Those wondering about...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren January 12, 2016
Yesterday saw a big development in the Des Moines Water Works case against three northwest Iowa drainage districts. Judge Bennett certified four questions of Iowa law to the Iowa Supreme Court.: Question 1: As a matter of Iowa law, does the doctrine of implied immunity of drainage districts as applied in cases such as Fisher v. Dallas County, 369 N.W.2d 426 (Iowa 1985), grant drainage districts unqualified immunity from all of the damage claims set forth in the Complaint? Question 2: As a...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren January 8, 2016
The Iowa Supreme Court issued an opinion today that may change the way many cases against insurance companies are tried. Because insurance coverage and farming operations go hand in hand, agricultural law attorneys should pay attention to Villarreal v. United Fire and Casualty Co.* and its implications. The case gave the Iowa Supreme Court its first opportunity to decide whether a breach-of-contract verdict in favor of an insured (against the insurer) precludes a subsequent action for first-...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren December 21, 2015
On December 18, President Obama signed into law an 887-page package of legislation designed to fund the government through 2016. Called the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, the legislation made permanent or further extended many tax breaks important to farm producers and small businesses. These updates are discussed in a December 20, 2015, article found here. The legislation also impacts producers in several other important ways. Country of Origin Labeling The new Act amends the...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren December 14, 2015
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a new rule today requiring registration of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds.. The official weight of the UAS includes any payloads, such as cameras. Under the new rule (which is effective December 21, 2015), any owner of a small UAS who has exclusively operated the UAS as a model aircraft before December 21, 2015, must register no later than February 19, 2016. Those who purchase their...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren December 10, 2015
Background The defendants included a husband and wife who owned a number of poultry-related companies. They each owned a 50 percent share of an LLC they established in August of 2010. The purpose of the LLC was to purchase eggs for hatching, coordinate delivery of hatched chicks to contracted growers, and coordinate the delivery of the grown birds to a family-owned poultry processing company. The plaintiff was a supplier of eggs for hatching. In early 2010 (before the LLC was formed), the...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren November 13, 2015
The Iowa Court of Appeals recently affirmed a dissolution decree involving a self-employed farmer and his ex-wife who was employed off the farm. The parties had been married for 16 years. The husband was 52 years old and the wife was 43 years old at the time of trial. The wife, who was a welder when the parties were married, had finished her associate’s degree during the marriage and was employed as a court clerk earning $35,970. The husband, who testified that he earned $170 in 2011, $30,795...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren October 29, 2015
The Tax Court recently found that a petitioner had not made a taxable gift in 1972 when he transferred stock to his children to settle a family lawsuit. Although the transfer had occurred decades earlier, the IRS issued a notice of deficiency to petitioner in 2013, asserting that the taxpayer (who was deceased at the time) owed $737,625 in unpaid gift taxes and an addition to tax of $368,813 for fraud. As an alternative to the fraud claim, the IRS contended that the petitioner owed an addition...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren October 28, 2015
The Iowa Court of Appeals issued another boundary by acquiescence case today, affirming a district court order establishing such a boundary between two residential properties. The case originated under the oft-applied Iowa law, Iowa Code § 650.14: If it is found that the boundaries and corners alleged to have been recognized and acquiesced in for ten years have been so recognized and acquiesced in, such recognized boundaries and corners shall be permanently established. “Acquiescence” is...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren October 21, 2015
Another development arose this week in the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit. The Board of Water Works Trustees (DMWW) filed its (very long) resistance to the drainage districts’ motion for partial summary judgment, which the districts had filed on September 24. The drainage districts’ motion and supporting brief asked the court to enter judgment for the defendants on DMWW’s tort claims. These claims, based on Iowa common law, include allegations of negligence, trespass, public nuisance, and...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren October 19, 2015
The U.S. Secretary of Transportation held a press conference today announcing that a new registration system for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) (including hobby aircraft) should be in place by mid-December. The Secretary announced that he had created a task force comprising 25 to 30 representatives from the UAS industry, government, and the manned airline industry. He assembled the task force in response to numerous safety concerns arising from the increasing use of UAS in the U.S. airspace....
By: Kristine A. Tidgren October 17, 2015
The plaintiff was a trucker who entered into an oral agreement in 2001 with a milk cooperative. The trucker agreed to pick up milk from dairy farms and deliver it to the cooperative’s plant. Under the oral agreement, the cooperative was to pay the trucker a certain amount per gallon of milk delivered, plus $100 for each delivery trip. On July 31, 2013, the cooperative informed the trucker, in writing, that it was reducing the trip charge by $25 per month beginning in September, fully...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren October 9, 2015
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has now stayed the Clean Water Rule nationwide. This temporary ruling brings uniformity to the patchwork of enforcement that has existed since the Rule’s August 28 effective date. As we’ve detailed in past articles, a United States District Court for the District of North Dakota temporarily enjoined enforcement of the Rule on August 27. The North Dakota court ruled the following week, however, that the injunction applied only to the 13...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren October 7, 2015
A federal judge from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia recently granted summary judgment to the EPA in a lawsuit challenging the agency’s decision to withdraw a proposed rule impacting confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The proposed rule, which was withdrawn in 2012, would have for the first time imposed information reporting requirements on CAFOs as part of the EPA’s administration of the Clean Water Act.   The proposed rule arose over concerns that—despite...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren October 2, 2015
The drainage districts being sued by the Board of Water Works Trustees (DMWW) have filed their first dispositive motion. On September 24, the districts filed a motion asking the court to enter summary judgment in favor of the drainage districts on the common law claims alleged by DMWW. These claims--which are all asserted under Iowa common law--include negligence, trespass, public nuisance, and private nuisance. The defendants also asked the court to enter judgment in favor of the defendants on...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren September 2, 2015
Yesterday, a federal judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas vacated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) final rule[i] in which the agency listed the lesser prairie-chicken as a "threatened" species. The controversial rule was published April 10, 2014, and two months later the Permian Basin Petroleum Association and several New Mexico counties filed a lawsuit challenging its validity. The plaintiffs alleged that the FWS did not provide a rational...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren August 28, 2015
On the eve of the official effective date of the new Clean Water Rule (Fed. Reg. 37,054-127,), a North Dakota federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction to stop the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from enforcing it. The court stated: The court finds that under either standard – “substantial likelihood of success on themerits” or “fair chance of success” – the States are likely to succeed on their claim because (1) it appears likely that the EPA has violated its Congressional...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren August 21, 2015
It’s a rather small detail, but those small details often make all the difference when it comes to litigation. And that’s what happened in a recent case from the Iowa Court of Appeals. The court explained that the limitations period for claims alleging a breach of an express warranty differs from that for claims alleging a breach of an implied warranty. The difference lies not in the actual limitations period—which is five years for both types of warranties (as long as they are not written)—but...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren August 20, 2015
The Iowa Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion demonstrating a sometimes misunderstood feature of an occurrence-based liability policy: Insurance coverage ends when the policy lapses. In other words, if a business owner is covered by a liability policy when it performs faulty work, it may not be covered for damage stemming from that work if the damage occurs after the policy expires. This is an important distinction that impacts both businesses and consumers. The Iowa case was initiated...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren August 12, 2015
Perhaps the most misunderstood portion of Iowa farm lease law is that governing the proper termination of a lease. Iowa law is unique in that under Iowa Code §562.6, a farm lease renews automatically—under the same terms and conditions as the original lease—absent specific action by one or both parties to the lease. The automatic renewal provision applies to both oral and written leases. It also applies to leases covering any size of crop ground. Although prior law contained a “less than 40-...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren July 28, 2015
We’ve been keeping you informed about a Texas company’s proposal to build a crude oil pipeline across Iowa to transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois. Dakota Access has formerly requested a hazardous liquid pipeline permit from the Iowa Utilities Board and has been seeking to acquire voluntary easements from landowners along the pipeline’s proposed route. The pipeline has met firm opposition from many landowners. Yesterday saw a new development in this saga. Three landowners filed a...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren July 23, 2015
The Iowa Court of Appeals recently affirmed that negligence must be proved and that merely showing that an accident occurred is not evidence. The case involved a trial court’s denial of a requested res ipsa loquitur instruction in a negligence case stemming from a hog building fire. The case provides a helpful review of the little-discussed—but potentially mighty—res ipsa loquitur doctrine. “Res ipsa loquitur,” is a Latin phrase meaning “the thing speaks for itself.” In the right type of case,...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren July 2, 2015
The Kansas Supreme Court recently disbarred a lawyer. It wasn’t the first disbarment of the year, and it likely won’t be the last.[i] The case of In re Rankin, however, may be the most head shaking. It’s a case study of a lawyer who apparently did not believe that the rules applied to him. A case study in how to let personal interest overcome professional obligation. A case study in how to be disbarred. The lawyer was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1999. He was, according to many sources...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren July 2, 2015
They wasted no time. The day the new Clean Water Rule was officially published, June 29, 2015, the lawsuits began. As of today, 27 states have joined lawsuits challenging the validity of the new Rule unveiled May 27 by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Much of the most publicized criticism against the Clean Water Rule has been lodged by farming and industry groups.[i] However, it was the states (and more than half of them) that immediately ran to federal...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren July 1, 2015
Federal Judge Susan Mollway has struck down a Maui County Ordinance banning GMO crops. "A Bill Placing a Moratorium on the Cultivation of Genetically Modified Engineered Organisms" was passed by ballot initiative on November 4, 2014. Litigation over the Ordinance ensued immediately. On November 12, 2014, a group of citizens opposed to GMO technology filed a state court action seeking a declaration that the Ordinance was valid. The defendants removed the case to federal court and in Atay v....
By: Kristine A. Tidgren June 18, 2015
Mistakes happen. Sometimes mistakes lead to legal liability, as in the case of negligence. But sometimes, where it’s apparent that a mistake in an instrument was a mutual one, equity steps in to “reform” the mistake. No harm. No foul. The document is reformed to reflect the true intent of the parties. A recent case from the Iowa Court of Appeals demonstrates the application of this doctrine. It also shows that trying to take advantage of such a mistake in a court proceeding can lead to costly...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren June 11, 2015
A recent opinion from the Iowa Court of Appeals reminds us of the importance of written plans for family farming businesses. In a June 10 decision, the Iowa Court of Appeals turned away claims by a son that he was entitled to receive all of his deceased father’s farmland, despite a will provision leaving the property in equal shares to the son and his three siblings. The court did not address the question of whether the son was allowed to raise his promissory estoppel claim in a probate...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren June 9, 2015
On January 20, 2015, Dakota Access, LLC, filed with the Iowa Utilities Board a petition for a hazardous liquid pipeline permit. The proposal to construct a crude oil pipeline from the Bakkan oil fields to an Illinois refinery includes 346 miles of 30-inch pipeline through 18 Iowa counties. Since filing its petition, Dakota Access has been attempting to negotiate voluntary easement agreements with the landowners who would be impacted by the proposed project. If IUB grants Dakota Access approval...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren May 7, 2015
A recent case from the Iowa Court of Appeals reminds us that in order to acquire title to the property of another through a prescriptive easement (a non-exclusive form of adverse possession), the plaintiff must strictly prove the elements of the claim. In this case, the plaintiff proffered no such proof. Adverse possession is a unique doctrine that can seem quite unfair. It’s a method recognized in all states through which parties can acquire title to property that’s not actually theirs. To do...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren May 4, 2015
The Minnesota Department of Revenue announced special relief last week for poultry producers in Minnesota who were impacted by the H5N2 avian influenza outbreak. The Department announced that these producers will not be assessed penalties or interest if the outbreak prevented them from filing state returns or paying state taxes on time. This relief applies for all returns and tax payments due between April 23 and May 27, 2015. This relief does not apply to federal or local taxes. Producers...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren May 1, 2015
A recent Fifth Circuit opinion established that a federal court has jurisdiction to review the EPA’s denial of a rulemaking petition. It did, however, go on to establish a “highly deferential” standard of review, placing upon the agency only a “slight” burden to justify its decision to decline a necessity determination. Although the case is on remand to the district court for further review, this decision was a win for the agency. The case arose when a coalition of environmental groups...
By: Roger A. McEowen April 29, 2015
Financial stress in agriculture creates numerous legal issues.  One of those that may not necessarily be high on the “radar screen” involves the purchasing of machinery and equipment.  Does it matter if the purchase is from a private party or an implement dealer?  It just might.  There are at least a couple of common scenarios to watch out for. Buyer in the Ordinary Course of Business Under the Uniform Commercial Code, a buyer in the ordinary course (BIOC) is a person who, in good faith, and...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 28, 2015
A federal court in Vermont recently denied the request of food manufacturers to enjoin the enforcement of Vermont’s new Genetic Engineering (GE) labeling law set to go into effect next year. The court did, however, also refuse to dismiss the majority of the plaintiffs’ claims. As such, the validity of the law remains unsettled, and more opinions will issue down the road. Vermont Act 120 was signed into law on May 8, 2014. It is set to become effective July 1, 2016. The law requires food sold in...
By: Roger A. McEowen April 27, 2015
We all know that the deadline for filing the federal income tax return is April 15. But now since that date has passed, don’t think that the filing season is really over.  If you are “hiding” assets overseas (and, yes, Mexico and Canada are “overseas”) you may have another form to file.  It’s the Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) and the Form is FinCEN Form 114 (Form TD 90-22.1).  This filing is not part of the tax return that you have to file by April 15, and its due by June 30.  Also, the...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 24, 2015
The Iowa Court of Appeals Wednesday reduced a damages award granted to a couple who claimed their neighbor intentionally removed trees along their fence line. The plaintiffs, were self-described “tree people” who lived on a five and one-half acre rural land parcel. Their property adjoined that of the defendant, who was a farmer. The plaintiffs’ land was covered with timber and the property abutting the farmer’s crop ground was covered by an assortment of overgrown volunteer trees. The farmer,...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 23, 2015
In 2013, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the Iowa Recreational Use Statute did not bar a negligence action brought by a parent chaperone against dairy farmers giving a gratuitous farm tour to a kindergarten class. The dairy farmers had invited the kindergarten class to tour their farm to learn about a “typical day on the farm.” While touring the hayloft, a chaperone stood on a bale of hay covering a hole in the loft floor. The bale gave way, she fell through the hole, and she broke her leg....
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 22, 2015
The United States Supreme Court is today hearing oral arguments in a raisin growers’ case raising important Fifth Amendment questions. The key questions, which stem from the operation of a 66-year-old USDA marketing order, include: (1) Whether a governmental mandate to relinquish specific, identifiable property as a "condition" to engage in commerce effects a per se taking and (2) Whether the Fifth Amendment requirement that the government pay just compensation for the taking of property...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 16, 2015
A Missouri statute designed to limit the damages recoverable by landowners in nuisance actions against farming operations has survived its first major challenge. In 2011, Missouri enacted Mo. Rev. Stat. §537.296, a statute designed to supplant the common law of private nuisance where the alleged nuisance stems from an agricultural operation. The statute, while not eliminating private nuisance actions, bars recovery for non-economic damages for items such as loss of use and enjoyment,...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 15, 2015
The Iowa Court of Appeals again set forth the requirements to prove an easement by prescription as yet another family feud played out in the court system. This case involved brothers and their mother. The plaintiffs, a husband and wife, lived on Tract A, a property they purchased in a partition auction stemming from the death of the husband’s father. In that same auction, the husband’s brother and mother purchased an adjacent 2.1-acre tract, subject to the mother’s life estate. The mother...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 14, 2015
The Iowa Court of Appeals recently had the opportunity to interpret Iowa Code §562.5A, which, in the absence of a writing to the contrary, grants tenants the right to harvest corn stalks until the lease terminates. Little has been written about his law, which was enacted in 2010 in response to the growing value of corn stalks. Agricultural attorneys must be aware of this law and its impact on their clients. The recent case provides a good overview of its significant implications and sets forth...
By: Roger A. McEowen April 8, 2015
Most U.S. businesses are family-owned, but statistics show that only about 30 percent of them survive to the next generation and only about 12 percent to the third generation.  Why?  Conflict among family members – sibling rivalry and battles with cousins are a major reason.  So, a major issue in estate and succession planning for family businesses is how to appropriately deal with the potential for family conflict and associated issues that could be detrimental to the long-term success of the...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 7, 2015
In a blogpost yesterday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy announced that their offices had sent a draft final version of what's been called the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule to the Office of Management and Budget on April 3. The controversial rule, which the EPA and the U.S. Arny Corps of Engineers have attempted to rebrand as the "Clean Water Rule," will now undergo an interagency review before becoming final. While refusing to speak...
By: Roger A. McEowen April 3, 2015
As the general economy continues to struggle, the farm economy will have another tough year.  Crop prices have declined significantly from where they were a couple of years ago, and financial stress among producers is increasing.  In the general economy, the March 2015 jobs report tells an awful tale – a record 93.175 million Americans 16 years old and older are not working, the January and February jobs numbers were dramatically revised downward, and the Federal Reserve has cut its growth...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 2, 2015
On April 1, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit admonished the USDA for denying farm program benefits to a farmer and forcing him to “navigate a bureaucratic labyrinth,” all the while “demonstrat[ing] a disregard for its own regulations.” The Court made these statements while reversing a decision from the district court that supported wetlands and penalty determinations made by NRCS and FSA, both USDA agencies. The Court remanded the case to the agencies for further...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren April 1, 2015
April Fool's Day seems the appropriate time to highlight what's become a near daily mantra: beware of tax-related scams and schemes. Unfortunately, these warnings continue because the sophistication of the scammers is exploding. No longer is it merely the naive who are being sucked in by these scams. While many artless tactics remain (if you just wire this money to Nigeria by Friday...), the emerging scams come wrapped in a cloak of credibility. It's often difficult for even the wary to...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 30, 2015
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Iowa recently ruled in favor of the debtors in an adversary action brought by their bank. The bank argued that the debtors’ obligations under a promissory note and an agricultural security agreement should be excepted from discharge in their Chapter 7 bankruptcy under 11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(6). Under that provision, debt is excepted from discharge for “willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another entity or to the property of...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 27, 2015
USDA has just announced that owners and producers will have one more week to reallocate base acres or elect between Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). The new deadline for both activities is now April 7, 2015. This marks the second extension for owners to update their yield histories or reallocate base acres. Originally the deadline for this activity was February 27. On that date, however, USDA extended that deadline to March 31, which was also the deadline for...
By: Roger A. McEowen March 25, 2015
The drop in crop prices in recent months has introduced financial strain for some producers.  Bankruptcy practitioners that we know are reporting an increase in clients dealing with debt workouts and other bankruptcy-related concerns.  We will produce a technical article for TaxPlace on the debt discharge rules for farmers, but below is an outline of the basics. An important part of debt resolution is the income tax consequences to the debtor.  Except for installment land contracts and CCC...
By: Roger A. McEowen March 24, 2015
The 2014 Farm Bill was enacted into law in early 2014.  It contains the farm program rules that will govern participating farmers for the next five years.  Under the new rules, the total amount of payments that an individual or entity can receive either directly or indirectly (except for a joint venture or general partnership) for any crop year is $125,000.  Spouses are able to double that amount, and a separate limit applies to peanuts.  Any amount received from forfeiting a non-recourse loan...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 23, 2015
The ACA "relief" saga continues. On Friday, March 20, after discovering more erroneous Form 1095-As, the Treasury Department issued "expanded" relief . In February, the Treasury Department issued "relief" to certain taxpayers who had filed their tax returns in reliance upon one of the estimated 800,000 incorrect Form 1095-As that had been issued by the federally-facilitated Marketplace. These incorrect forms had reported the premium amount for the second-lowest priced Silver plan for 2015, not...
By: Roger A. McEowen March 20, 2015
There have been numerous cases in recent years involving farmers who have been found to have violated a patent on seeds and had to pay a tidy sum as a result.  One question came into us recently about whether a payment a farmer had to make to settle a claim concerning patented seeds that he illegally saved, replanted and also resold could be deducted.  The tax code says that a taxpayer can deduct ordinary and necessary expenses that are paid or incurred in the tax year to conduct the taxpayer’s...
By: Roger A. McEowen March 19, 2015
We’ve received a lot of questions recently involving how to treat unharvested crops at death for tax purposes.  It’s a great question.  We’ll develop a technical piece for TaxPlace on the topic, but here we go over the basic issues that arise and the general rules. When an individual dies during the growing season, the tax treatment of the crop is tied to the status of the decedent at the time of death.  Was the decedent a farmer?  If the decedent was a landlord, what type of lease was involved...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 18, 2015
Readers interested in the new Des Moines Board of Water Works federal lawsuit may have followed another federal lawsuit last year, the "California egg case" as it was often called. These readers may be wondering, “What ever happened to that egg case?” The answer is that it’s still winding its way slowly through the federal court system. The status of Missouri v. Harris, No. 14-17111[i], which is pending in the 9th Circuit, is illustrative of the federal litigation process. It also suggests that...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 16, 2015
  The Des Moines Board of Water Works Trustees has filed its complaint against the Supervisors of Calhoun, Sac, and Buena Vista Counties in their capacities as trustees of Iowa drainage districts. Among its many demands, the complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Norther District of Iowa, asks the court to order the drainage districts to cease "all discharges of nitrate that are not authorized by an NPDES or state operating permit." In addition to claims under...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 13, 2015
The Iowa Utilities Board ruled this week that Dakota Access, LLC, substantially complied with Iowa law when it notified landowners of its plans to seek a permit to build an oil pipeline across their property. Because the legally-required newspaper notice erroneously stated that the pipeline would be buried under 60 inches of soil, instead of under 48 inches of soil (which is the actual plan), an environmental coalition (including the Sierra Club) challenged the validity of the notice in a...
By: Roger A. McEowen March 12, 2015
We had an interesting question come into the office recently.  The question involved the tax treatment of a biofiltration system for a farmer.  I wasn’t familiar with the concept so I did a little research to find out exactly what a biofiltration system is.  Basically, biofiltration removes contaminates (such as nitrates) in water by metabolizing microorganisms as the water flows past. The biofilters are basically a buried trench with woodchips through which tile water flows before the water...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 10, 2015
As threatened in January, the Des Moines Board of Water Works Trustees voted today to proceed with a federal Clean Water Act (CWA) citizen lawsuit against the supervisors of three Iowa Counties. The DMWW will sue the supervisors of Sac, Buena Vista, and Calhoun Counties in their capacity as trustees for 10 Iowa drainage districts. The lawsuit will primarily allege that the drainage districts are discharging pollutants into waters of the United States without a permit in violation of the CWA....
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 9, 2015
The legal wrangling over the validity of local ordinances seeking to stop the growing of Genetically Engineered Organisms (GMO) continues in Hawaii. At the center of the litigation is United States Magistrate Judge Kurren, who, last Thursday, ruled that a state court action seeking a declaration that a Maui County GMO ban is legally valid was properly removed to federal court. In Atay v. County of Maui, No. 14-00582, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26951 (D. Hawaii March 5, 2015), Judge Kurren ruled that...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 6, 2015
State laws differ in the protections they grant to landowners facing eminent domain. In Iowa, for example, the Iowa Utilities Board can grant a company, such as a utility company, the right to condemn an easement through a private landowner's property if it finds that the proposed project would "promote the public convenience and necessity.” If the Board vests a company with the right of eminent domain, the landowner is forced to convey the easement. "Just compensation" is awarded, and the...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 5, 2015
Last fall, we fielded a number of calls at the Center from Iowa landlords whose tenants failed to make their rental payments on time. In most of these cases, the tenant was offered the right to make the yearly payment in two installments, one at the beginning of the lease term and the other six months later. It was the September payments these tenants failed to make, and the landlords were wondering about their legal rights. In some cases, their rights were minimal because they had failed to...
By: Roger A. McEowen March 3, 2015
A recent decision by the Illinois Court of Appeals involved a small farm that a town tried to zone out of existence.  The case involved the town's ability to zone agricultural activities and the state's right-to-farm law.  The plaintiff, a small town of 230 people, sued the defendants, a married couple, for violating a town ordinance which declared commercial farming within the town boundaries to be a nuisance. The defendants bought a 57-acre farm in north-central Illinois, six acres of which...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren March 2, 2015
In a last-minute announcement, the IRS has declared that farmers waiting for a corrected 1095-A will have until April 15 to file their returns and pay their taxes. If they file Form 2210-F along with their return, the penalty for failure to pay quarterly estmated tax will be waived. Last week we learned that the Health Insurance Marketplace sent out about 800,000 incorrect 1095-A Forms to taxpayers. Apparently, some states with exchanges, including California, did the same thing. These forms...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren February 27, 2015
As we near the end of February, several key Farm Program deadlines are looming. Today (February 27, 2015) was supposed to be the last day that a landowner could update crop base acres and payment yields. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, however, has just announced that this deadline has been extended to March 31, 2015. This is a decision that landowners, not tenants, must make. Producers (tenants in the case of a cash rent), on the other hand, must also elect by March 31, 2015, which...
By: Roger A. McEowen February 26, 2015
Many rural lawyers also prepare tax returns.  In many situations, tax preparation and counseling is the backbone of a rural tax practice along with estate and business planning.  An interesting call came into the office late today from one of those rural lawyers.  It was a tax question involving the lawyer's client that didn't farm in 2014, but carried over his harvested crop from 2013 and sold it in 2014.  The client rented out his ground in 2014 to a tenant, generating rental income.  The...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren February 25, 2015
Iowa Governor Branstad signed S.F. 257 into law today, raising the Iowa excise tax on fuel for motor vehicles (including gasoline and diesel fuel) by 10 cents per gallon. Iowans will likely face the increase by Sunday, the first day of the first month following the enactment of the law. The increase, the first one in Iowa since 1989, is expected to raise one billion dollars over five years to improve Iowa's aging roads and bridges. The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 53-46 and the...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren February 24, 2015
We learned late last week that Healthcare.gov sent out about 800,000 incorrect 1095-A Forms to taxpayers. Apparently, some states with exchanges, including California, did the same thing. These forms incorrectly reported the premium amount for the second-lowest priced Silver plan from 2015, not 2014. This information is required to calculate the amount of the premium tax credit to which the taxpayer was entitled in 2014. Using the wrong Silver plan premium amount means calculating the wrong...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren February 23, 2015
A recent Iowa Court of Appeals decision should alert landlords of all kinds to their potential premises liability to third parties. Although the basic Iowa rule is that a lessor is not liable for injuries occurring after a lessee has taken possession of the property, there are a number of exceptions to the rule. In this case, the court found that the corporate landlord did have a duty of care toward the third party because it had (1) retained some control over the property and (2) contractually...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren February 19, 2015
I'm not trying to sound ungrateful for the much-needed guidance we received from IRS yesterday in Notice 2015-17. Relief from penalties, even if limited, is always welcome. But next time, I would prefer more actual guidance and not just more ad hoc penalty relief. This winter was nearly unbearable for many tax professionals with small business clients because no one had any idea how to guide them with respect to illegal plans that had continued into 2014. And it seems that the majority of such...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren February 18, 2015
When I was in journalism school, my professors had a policy that if you spelled a name wrong in a story, you flunked the assignment. The Iowa Court of Appeals recently ruled that if you describe the wrong property in your quiet title petition, you get your case dismissed. The plaintiff is a company that frequently purchases properties at tax sale auctions.  In this case, the company purchased the defendant’s tax sale certificate from another company, which had served a notice of redemption upon...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren February 16, 2015
The FAA released proposed rules on February 15, 2015, that would, if implemented, finally open the door for the use of small unmanned aircraift systems (UAS) in agriculture and other industries. Although the rule is not in its final form and does not authorize the immediate use of UAS, it is the first regulatory step toward acceptance and integration of the technology that has outpaced its necessary regulatory framework. The proposed rule, which only applies to UAS weighing less than 55 pounds...
By: Kristine A. Tidgren February 14, 2015
Rock Island Clean Line (RICL) is seeking a franchise from the Iowa Utitlies Board (IUB) to build a high voltage direct current line across Iowa. The line would transport wind energy generated in northwest Iowa to Illinois. It would cross 16 Iowa counties and 1,540 parcels of land, impacting 2,295 different owners. Last December, RICL filed its second motion asking the IUB to split the necessary hearing into two. At the first hearing, the IUB would consider the question of whether to grant the...

CALT does not provide legal advice. Any information provided on this website is not intended to be a substitute for legal services from a competent professional. CALT's work is supported by fee-based seminars and generous private gifts. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the material contained on this website do not necessarily reflect the views of Iowa State University.

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