Iowa Court Affirms Farm Foreclosure Appeal was Untimely

September 22, 2021 | Kitt Tovar Jensen

In this case, farm borrowers once again challenged court orders surrounding their farm foreclosure. In November 2017, the district court granted summary judgment and a foreclosure decree in favor of the bank. On February 3, 2021, the Iowa Court of Appeals denied the farm borrowers’ request to set aside the sheriff’s sale of their property because any “irregularities” in the sale were due to the plaintiffs’ own actions.

After the summary judgment, the district court entered four orders, including an August 2019 order eliminating the one-year redemption period. In June 2020, the farm borrowers challenged the 2017 grant of summary judgment, as well as the four additional district court orders. The district court dismissed the June 2020 petition finding the farm borrowers did not meet the timeliness requirement of Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.1013.

Procedure for Vacating or Modifying Judgment

If a petition is timely filed, a court may vacate or modify a judgment or order for mistake, fraud, unavoidable casualty preventing a party from participating, and the discovery of material evidence that could not have been discovered before trial. Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.1012. To be timely, the petition must be “filed and served in the original action within one year after the entry of the judgment or order involved.” Id. at 1.1013.

On appeal, the farm borrowers claimed that their petition challenging the November 2017 judgment was, in fact, timely because it was filed within one year of the August 2019 order. They argued that the date of the last order in a series started the one-year statutory period. However, the court explained that the one-year period to bring a petition under rule 1.1013 begins on the entry date of the summary judgment or order challenged. Therefore, a party cannot appeal an original judgment outside of the one-year period, even if he is within a one-year period for a series of subsequent orders. Because the June 2020 petition was filed outside of the one-year time period, the Court of Appeals affirmed that the farm borrowers’ claim was untimely. Additionally, the farm borrowers could not mount a collateral attack because the district court retained jurisdiction of the collateral issues.