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While most property owners in Iowa know they are required to keep their sidewalks clear of ice and snow accumulation, they might not know that they have a responsibility to keep their sidewalks in good repair. Iowa Code § 364.12(d) (2011) requires property owners to maintain the sidewalks adjacent to their property. Some cities have codified this requirement as well. When a property owner fails to fix deficiencies, liability can result for any injuries to others resulting from the poor condition of the sidewalk. That is exactly what happened in this case.


Most of the time, factual issues and legal consequences of the facts in a lawsuit are disputed and sorted out through the course of litigation. Likewise, there is generally evidence supporting legal theories for recovery. If, however, there is no evidence to support a legal claim against a party, the attorney has an obligation to recognize (hopefully before trial) that there is no legal claim and resolve the matter. In this case, the continuation of a lawsuit in the absence of any proof warranted sanctions against the attorney.

October 12, 2012 | Erika Eckley


At the heart of every negligent tort case are the elements of duty, breach, causation and damages.   The elements are like links in a chain – each must be established for a plaintiff to prevail.  In other words, the plaintiff must prove all four elements or his claim with fail.  This case is an illustration of the necessity of establishing all four elements to prevail on a negligent tort claim.


Here, the widow of the decedent disagreed with the decedent’s brother over the proper disposition of a 120-acre farm. The farm was deeded to the decedent and his brother in 1969 by their mother, as tenants in common. The brothers orally created a farm partnership. The brothers rented the land to a tenant on a crop-share basis, put the income into a partnership account, and annually filed a partnership tax return for federal income tax purposes. 

January 10, 2010 | Erin Herbold


Here, a father and two sons formed a farm partnership by a written agreement in 1985. In 1995, the father and sons also signed articles of incorporation, forming a woodworking business. The profits from both entities were to be divided equally between the three. In 2007, one brother filed suit, seeking dissolution of both entities. The father and other son countersued, seeking dismissal of the petition for dissolution and demanding an accounting of both entities and an order for the son seeking the dissolution to withdraw from both entities. 


May 11, 2011 | Erin Herbold


This case involved the validity of mortgage agreements affecting an Iowa farming corporation’s real property. The court was asked to determine whether the corporation was liable for notes and mortgage agreements executed by those involved with the corporation and whether there was valid consideration for those documents. Further, the court was asked to determine the issue of attorney’s fees.

July 29, 2011 | Erin C. Herbold-Swalwell


July 16, 2011 | Erin C. Herbold-Swalwell


June 21, 2007 | Roger McEowen


The Iowa Supreme Court has issued an important ruling concerning the scope of the Iowa competition (antitrust) law. The ruling narrows the pool of eligible parties that may sue for an antitrust violation, and has important implications for many Iowa consumers - including farmers.  


Research and development expenses, if they are incurred in a trade or business, are currently deductible.   That rule also applies to new businesses despite the fact that no trade or business was being conducted at the time, if there is a realistic prospect that the taxpayer will later enter into a trade or business utilizing the technology developed.   If no trade or business exists, the expenses must be capitalized into the cost of the developed technology and cannot be currently deducted.

April 13, 2009 | Roger McEowen


The California Court of Appeals has ruled that the state’s limited liability company (LLC) fee is an unconstitutional tax.  While the court’s opinion is somewhat diluted by the Legislature’s 2007 amendments to the LLC fee, it is an important victory for taxpayers.  

March 7, 2008 | Roger McEowen


The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has built up a track record in recent years of being the Circuit Court with the highest rate of reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court – with many of those reversals being unanimous.  Well, chalk another one up – this time in a case involving the most basic of federal income tax principles.


The IRS limits those that are entitled to “practice” before it.  Generally, “practice before the IRS” is defined as including all matters connected with a presentation to the IRS on behalf of the taxpayer. Examples include preparing and filing documents, communicating with the IRS, and representing a client at meetings.  Any attorney, CPA, enrolled agent or enrolled actuary who is not under suspension or disbarment from practice before IRS may “practice” before the IRS.  Also, there are some exceptions made for other persons, such as the following: 

October 13, 2010 | Roger McEowen



February 26, 2008 | Roger McEowen



The U.S. Supreme Court has issued an important opinion involving the “dormant Commerce Clause.”  The opinion goes to the heart of what states can do to regulate out-of-state businesses that conduct transactions within the state in a manner that is different from the way in which similar in-state business is regulated.   That’s been an important issue in agriculture in recent years, particularly as applied to state attempts to restrict corporate involvement in agriculture.  

June 29, 2009 | Roger McEowen


September 20, 2009 | Roger McEowen


July 18, 2011 | Erin C. Herbold-Swalwell and Roger A. McEowen



In a unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court reversed a recent opinion of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which had found that California’s statute §599f was not preempted by the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) 21 U.S.C. §601 et seq. In its decision, the Supreme Court held that California’s provision making criminal a slaughterhouse’s acceptance, butchering, or holding of nonambulatory animals without immediate euthanization was preempted by the federal law.


In this case, the decedent’s wife received Medicaid benefits until the time of her death in 2002.  The total amount of benefits received amounted to $153,180.59.  No estate was opened for her, and she was survived by her husband, the decedent in this case.  He never received any Medicaid benefits and died in 2006.  Upon his death, the Missouri Department of Social Services filed a claim against his estate for Medicaid assistance paid to his pre-deceased wife.  The trial court dismissed the claim and the state appealed.



On December 10 and 11, both the U.S. House and Senate passed H.R. 7327, the “Worker, Retiree, and Employer Recovery Act of 2008.”  The Act makes technical corrections to the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA), and includes a relief measure that waives the requirement for taxpayers age 70 and ½ and older to take a required minimum distribution in 2009.  President Bush is signed the Act into law on December 23, 2008.

H.R. 7327, Pub. Law No. 110-458


In the past, a taxpayer could sell a remainder interest in property for remainder interest’s actuarial fair market value, retain a term or life estate, and not trigger gift tax (because the sale was for fair market value, and not have the value of the life estate included in the transferor’s estate at death.  But, I.R.C. §2702 and the Regulations now require that gift tax be paid on such arrangements.  However, a recent IRS Private Letter Ruling says the prior rules apply when a personal residence is transferred to a qualified personal residence trust (QPRT).  

April 15, 2008 | Roger McEowen