Iowa Resources

We have written detailed reviews of Iowa law impacting agricultural producers and landowners. Access these reviews by clicking on the tiles below. You can also review Iowa cases on a particular subject by searching our list of Iowa case law reviews at the bottom of this page.

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Lending equipment to a neighbor may seem harmless, but can it lead to a lawsuit? In this vicarious liability case, the issue was whether the owners of a trailer can be held vicariously liable under Iowa’s Owner Consent statute (Iowa Code §321.493).  Ultimately, the courts agreed that the plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed against the trailer owners, because a trailer is not a motor vehicle in Iowa.

A year before her death, a woman entered into a real estate installment contract with her sister-in-law to sell her home, retaining a life estate in the property. The woman executed a will that provided for the payments of her “just debts” from her estate upon her death. The remainder of her property was to go to her sister-in-law. At the time of her death, she owed several thousand dollars to health care entities for medical assistance.  Upon discovering this outstanding balance, the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) filed a claim against the estate pursuant to Iowa Code § 249.5(2).

Here, the plaintiff purchased a tract of land and obtained a mortgage on the real estate from the defendant, a bank.  The real estate secured the mortgage and the bank had an additional security interest in the plaintiff’s horses. A few years later, the plaintiff defaulted on her mortgage with the bank, and the bank filed a petition for foreclosure. However, before the sheriff’s sale, the plaintiff moved herself and her horses to her sister’s property. After the sheriff’s sale, there remained a $7,990 deficiency on the bank loan.

August 26, 2009 | Roger McEowen

The Iowa Supreme Court has determined that America Online (AOL) does not offer telecommunication services in Iowa because members could only access the services through AOL's out-of-state call centers.  Thus, AOL's services were not subject to sales tax because the tax can only be imposed on services that originate and terminate within Iowa. Iowa law taxes the gross receipts from the sale, furnishing or service of communication services when they are sold at retail in Iowa to consumers or users.

July 17, 2009 | Roger McEowen

Surface water drainage disputes can arise between property owners when an adjacent landowner does something to interfere with the natural or historical flow of water to or from their property.   Historically, the law did not permit much alteration of a natural water course.  But, a landowner of higher elevation (the owner of the “dominant estate”) is entitled to drain excess surface water onto land of lower elevation (the “servient estate”) along and within the natural watercourse.  However, a drawback of this approach was that it did not allow landowners to fully develop and utilize their

In recent years, 46 states have enacted legislation designed to encourage the continued existence of equine-related activities, facilities and programs, and provide the equine industry limited protection against lawsuits.   The laws generally require special language in written contracts and liability releases or waivers, require the posting of warning signs and attempt to educate the public about inherent risks in horse-related activities and immunities designed to limit tort liability.   Under the typical statute, an “equine activity sponsor,” “equine professional,” or others can only be

Iowa law specifies that once a drainage district is established, additional land that is contiguous to the land in the district may be annexed into the district if the contiguous lands are benefitted by the improvement.  The question of whether land was benefitted by a drainage district and could, therefore, be annexed into the district was involved in this case.

October 16, 2008 | Roger McEowen & Erin Herbold

For purposes of Iowa sales and use tax, Iowa Code §428.20 defines a “manufacturer” as a person who purchases, receives, or holds personal property of any description for the purpose of adding to its value by a process of manufacturing. In Iowa, a “manufacturer” is exempt from sales and use tax on purchases of equipment if the equipment is “directly and primarily used in processing.” The application of the exemption to a paint company was at issue in this case.

Iowa law specifies that the natural drainage of surface water cannot be diverted by one landowner to the damage of another landowner.  But, courts only grant injunctive relief in situations where it is necessary to prevent irreparable harm or afford relief where there is no other adequate remedy.  A drainage issue and injunctive relief were involved in this case.

Drainage law is important to many Iowa farmers, and the issues frequently involve not only principles of Iowa water law, but also statutes and regulations involving drainage districts and County officials.  That was certainly the situation in this case.

Iowa law (Iowa Code §422.7 (21)) provides that certain capital gains can be excluded from taxable income.  For the sale of business property to be eligible, the taxpayer must have either been employed in the business or materially participated in the business for ten years and held the property for ten years.  Also, the statute defines sale of a business as the sale of “all or substantially all of the tangible personal property or service of the business.”  The statute has been modified in recent years, but the provision defining “sale of a business” has not changed. 

Iowa law permits a landowner to construct open or covered drains to drain surface water in the general course of natural drainage upon the landowner’s property. However, such drainage activities cannot increase the quantity of water or change the manner of the discharge of the water onto someone else’s property. Also, Iowa law allows landowners that pay drainage district assessments to connect to lateral drains maintained by the drainage district so long as the directions of the district are followed with respect to making and maintaining the connection.

Iowa law (Iowa Code §§422.45(26) and (39)) exempts from sales tax the gross receipts from the sale or rental of farm machinery and equipment if the items are used directly and primarily in livestock or dairy production. That raises a question as to whether certain items associated with a confinement hog facility are eligible for the exemption. That was the question raised in this case.

To constitute a gift, the donor (person making the gift) must intend to make a gift, deliver the gifted property to the donee (recipient of the gifted property), and the donee must accept the gift. Also, when circumstances are uncertain, the donor’s intent controls. Here, the plaintiff received an inheritance and used some of it to purchase a tract of real estate, but placed title to the property in his girlfriend’s name because he was unsure whether a settlement of an outstanding child support obligation barred his former wife from getting a lien for the pre-settlement balance.

Most people are dependent on borrowed money or financing for continuing in business or for major purchases, such as a home. That is true for farmers and non-farmers alike. Typically, a lender requires the borrower to sign a written agreement giving the lender legal rights to the collateral (such as the borrower’s crops, livestock or equipment) if the borrower fails to repay the loan. The type of a lending arrangement is known as a “secured transaction” and is subject to a specific set of rules that govern the rights and obligations of the parties to the transaction.