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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Tort law involves the issue of sub-standard behavior.  In certain situations, a duty exists to conform one’s conduct to a particular standard, and liability can result if failure to attain that standard causes damages to someone else.  So, tort law holds parties accountable for their sub-standard actions or failure to act when they should.  The system, however, loses its impact when parties are not aware of what standard they will be held to before an injury occurs.

Arbitration is favored in Iowa because it enables parties to resolve their disputes while avoiding the expense and delay of traditional civil litigation while relying on experts in the subject matter to review the matter. Because of this policy, arbitration awards are presumed to be valid and enforceable. But, to be upheld, there must have been a valid agreement between the parties to arbitrate and the controversy between the parties must be subject to the agreement.

In the current case, a property owner (group of family members engaged full-time in the insurance business as owners/operators of an agency) took numerous and detailed steps to avoid county zoning rules by utilizing the ag exemption.  Initially, they appealed the county’s denial of ag exemptions from zoning on two parcels of land they owned.

With respect to a decedent’s will, sometimes affected  parties may try to argue that provisions are ambiguous in an effort to try to rewrite terms of the will, inquire into the wisdom of the distribution, or implement principles of equity and justice. If the language of a will is clear and unambiguous, however, the court is supposed to implement the distribution as declared in the will. Normally, admission of extrinsic evidence is not permitted.

In every marriage dissolution case, marital property must be distributed between the parties.  Every state has adopted some form of property distribution which requires courts to determine each spouse’s share of marital assets. 

The bedrock principle of all probate matters is that the decedent’s intent controls. In this case, the Iowa Supreme Court determined that the legislature expressly overturned this principle in regards to the disposition of a decedent’s remains and that the decedent’s wishes as expressed in her will could be disregarded.

The most basic premise of Iowa’s legal system is procedural due process. Any time the state acts or threatens to act to deprive a person of a protected liberty or property interest, the state must provide notice reasonably calculated to apprise the person of the action to be taken and provide an opportunity for the person to present his or her objections. In a recent case, the Iowa Court of Appeals was asked to review the procedural propriety of a judgment entered by the court against an individual for his role as executor of his mother’s estate.

In Iowa, when a couple divorces, marital property must be equitably distributed during the dissolution process. In determining what is equitable, the court looks at several factors. These include the length of the marriage, the parties’ contributions to the improvement of property, whether the property was the family home and provided a source of livelihood for the family, and the parties’ ability to support themselves after the separation. Typically, though, property inherited by one party is not considered marital property.

February 6, 2013 | Erika Eckley

In a recent Iowa Supreme Court case, the court was tasked with determining whether a drainage tile buried 6.62 feet below the surface and running underneath a railroad track is a “culvert” under Iowa’s Levee and Drainage Districts and Improvements statute such that a railroad has the responsibility to repair.

The plaintiffs, a married couple, operated a small farming business and borrowed money to build a small hog facility that was ultimately constructed 120 feet from their home.  After the building was constructed, they began contract-feeding pigs for another party.  The contract with the pigs’ owner required the plaintiffs to feed, care for, and manage the pigs supplied to them. They were also required to maintain insurance on the building and hogs, and ensure coverage in the event of suffocation of the animals.

The doctrine of res judicata prevents the continued litigation of an issue previously resolved through the court system. The concepts of issue preclusion and claim preclusion are both included in the doctrine. Issue preclusion prevents the relitigation of issues in a second action when the issues were previously raised and decided in another action. Claim preclusion bars a second legal action on a claim in which a valid and final judgment had already been issued.

In Iowa, the owner of an upper or dominant estate has a legal easement over the lower or servient estate for the natural drainage of water. The servient estate has a duty to accept this flow of water and cannot take measures to prevent it.

This lawsuit arose out of a child’s allergy to tree nuts and involved the issue of whether such an allergy is a disability under Iowa’s Civil Rights Act. The problem arose when the plaintiff tried to enroll her daughter in a child care center. The plaintiff’s daughter had a severe tree nut allergy and the mother detailed an emergency care plan with the center’s management.

A revocable trust is owned by the settlor of the trust.  The trustee, if different from the settlor, owes a fiduciary duty to the settlor.  The beneficiaries of a revocable trust have no ownership interest or right to any accounting of the trust assets until after the settlor’s death.  This is because the settlor, as the owner, can terminate the trust at any time. Once the settlor dies, however, the trust becomes irrevocable and the named beneficiaries now have a right to an accounting and the trustee owes a duty to the beneficiaries to administer the trust in their best interests.

When a person holds property that was intended to be transferred to another person, the court can create judicial remedies to ensure an equitable resolution and facilitate the transfer of the property to the intended person. Two remedies recently used by the court involved the establishment of a constructive trust and a resulting trust. A constructive trust is created when the holder of property is determined to be the trustee for the benefit of another who is entitled to an interest in the property.