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Federal law prohibits individuals from possessing firearms if a criminal no-contact order is in place against that individual in cases where the protected party fits the description of an “intimate partner.” So, can a person subject to a criminal no-contact order lawfully possess a firearm for the purpose of hunting alone? 

November 26, 2007 | Erin Herbold


August 20, 2008 | Roger McEowen



The defendant pled guilty to assault causing bodily injury and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, given probation, fined and ordered to pay $1266 in Medicaid expenditures triggered by the victim’s injuries. The defendant appealed the portion of the sentencing order requiring him to pay for the victim’s Medicaid expenses.  


This case shows, once again, the importance of getting agreements with contractors in writing- especially if there is some question as to their financial well-being or trustworthiness. Here, a financially-stressed contractor failed to pay bills for materials and ended up being charged with theft as a habitual offender. 

January 31, 2011 | Erin Herbold


February 28, 2011 | Erin Herbold



Sometimes landowners, especially in small towns, tend to ignore city ordinances when building and/or placing structures either on their property or adjacent to it. Often, public officials in these small communities either tend to not enforce existing ordinances or enforce them inconsistently. But, if a city chooses to enforce a restriction against obstructing a public right-of-way, must the city show that the obstruction interferes with travel or causes some sort of damage? That was the issue in this case.

September 4, 2006 | Roger McEowen


September 4, 2007 | Erin Herbold


Iowa Courts have recently decided two civil cases filed against Iowa towns involving the issue of the towns’ legal responsibility for injuries to individuals at a public building or at a public event, and a third case involving premises liability on private property.

September 3, 2007 | Roger McEowen


The Iowa Court of Appeals has decided two cases involving employer liability – one case involving the issue of an employer’s liability to an employee for an on-the-job injury, and a second case involving the question of when an employer is liable for injuries to a patron that an employee causes.

September 3, 2007 | Erin Herbold
November 13, 2007 | Erin Herbold


Trampolines can be the cause of serious injury, especially to minor children. This case concerns liability for a trampoline accident involving neighbors. In 2003, the defendants hosted a backyard barbeque and invited friends over for a relaxing afternoon. The defendants owned a trampoline that came complete with set-up instructions and a user’s manual. The plaintiff began jumping on the trampoline with her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend. But, when she landed from a jump, she severely broke her ankle. 

November 13, 2007 | Erin Herbold


In assessing fault for tort claims, Iowa law exempts municipalities from being assessed a percentage of fault under certain circumstances. One of those situations involves snow and ice removed from “streets.” But does that protection extend to sidewalks?        

December 30, 2007 | Erin Herbold


In Iowa, a landowner has a duty to use reasonable care to maintain reasonably safe conditions for invited guests and persons coming on the premises for business purposes.  But, does the landowner have to keep a look-out for dangerous conditions, or simply have notice of the dangerous condition and an opportunity to make the premises safe before being held liable?  In other words, just exactly what is the extent of the duty?  Does it include snow and ice removal?  That was the precise issue in this case.

December 30, 2007 | Erin Herbold


April 20, 2008 | Roger McEowen

Normally a landlord is not liable for injuries that a tenant’s animals cause.  But, a “possessor” of an animal can, in certain circumstances, be held liable for injuries that animals cause.  This case illustrates that latter point.

July 15, 2008 | Roger McEowen


June 1, 2009 | Erin Herbold



Is a public school employee liable for negligent acts committed in the scope of their employment, or is worse conduct required before recovery can be obtained?  That was the issue involved in this case.

November 25, 2009 | Erin Herbold



In Iowa, “if 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”  (Iowa Code §650.14). 


What is an individual’s duty of care as a “possessor of the land”? In Iowa, if a person that owns or possesses property permits a third person to come onto the premises, he is under a duty of care to reasonably control the conduct of that person.  This means that the owner or possessor must prevent the entrant from intentionally harming others. The Iowa Court of Appeals recently examined this issue, bringing to light a parent’s duty to control the actions of those entering onto their property. 

November 28, 2010 | Erin Herbold


Iowa Code §335.2 exempts agricultural land from county zoning regulations.  But, does that exemption apply to a wastewater storage lagoon?  In this case, the plaintiffs argued for an exemption on the basis that the lagoon had an agricultural purpose. The county board of adjustment disagreed, and the plaintiff’s appealed to the county district court. 

December 30, 2010 | Erin Herbold





In 2003, a dispute developed between a farmer and a grain cooperative when the cooperative allegedly improperly applied herbicide to the farmer’s land. In 2008, the plaintiff farmer filed suit against the defendant cooperative, asking the trial court to award damages based upon the loss of yields he sustained. During the trial and throughout the suit, the plaintiff, unrepresented by legal counsel, was repeatedly admonished by the court to comply with the court’s rules of procedure. 

May 11, 2011 | Erin Herbold


August 8, 2012 | Erin C. Herbold-Swalwell


Punitive damages are not awarded that often in tort cases.  When they are, it’s usually because the defendant’s conduct is viewed as being so bad that the court believes it is necessary to punish the defendant in addition to any actual damages that are awarded to the plaintiff.  But, what if the defendant dies before the court action is concluded.  Should punitive damages still be awarded?  If the purpose of granting them is to punish the offender, death of the offender would seem to eliminate the purpose of punitive damages.   

September 24, 2012 | Erin C. Herbold-Swalwell