Decisions by Judge Mark W. Bennett
This section of the Web Site contains opinions selected by individual Judges for posting and is not intended to constitute a complete set of opinions for the district or any Judge. The decisions are organized by categories listed on the lower left portion of this page. If you would like to do a word search of the entire database or individual categories you may do so by clicking on the search button below.



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-Great Lakes Communication Corp. v. AT&T Corp. (Billing dispute between the plaintiff “competitive local exchange carrier” or CLEC, and an “interexchange carrier” or IXC over charges to the IXC by the CLEC for routing telephone calls to the CLEC’s purported “end users,” who are “Free Calling Parties” or FCPs, resulting from what the IXC contends is “access stimulation”: CLEC’s motion to enforce purported settlement agreement: the effect of the court’s intervening order referring issues to the FCC on ability to accept a settlement offer; requirement of a signed writing; sufficiency of the offer; and whether a party made a counteroffer of inquiry before accepting an offer)08/21/2015
-Hawkeye Land Company v. ITC Midwest LLC and ITC Holdings, Corp. (Motion to Dismiss; Unreasonable Interference with Private Property; Tortious Interference with Prospective Economic Benefit; Malicious Prosecution; and Abuse of Process)08/11/2015
-Duane & Julie Davids v. North Iowa Community School District, et al. (Residents of an Iowa school district brought constitutional and state-law claims arising from an Iowa school district’s refusal to pay for the plaintiffs’ children to attend school in Minnesota; defendants’ motion for summary judgment: lack of a state-law right upon which to base equal protection, substantive due process, or procedural due process claims; lack of any genuine issues of material fact of “unjust enrichment”)07/16/2015
-Susan R. Parks, wife and next kin of Timothy Glen Parks v. Ariens Company (Diversity products liability case, motion for summary judgment; analyzing whether Iowa recognizes strict liability as a theory of recovery in products liability; determination of whether, under Iowa law, a manufacturer has a duty to retrofit a product; and analyzing whether decedent was aware of the availability and safety benefits of a Roll-Over Protection System for lawn mower at the time of or immediately after his purchase of the lawn mower. ) 06/30/2015
-Great Lakes Communication Corporation v. AT&T Corporation (Billing dispute between the plaintiff “competitive local exchange carrier” or CLEC, and an “interexchange carrier” or IXC over charges to the IXC by the CLEC for routing telephone calls to the CLEC’s purported “end users,” who are “Free Calling Parties” or FCPs, resulting from what the IXC contends is “access stimulation”: IXC’s request for referral of this action to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on the basis of that agency’s “primary jurisdiction” over pertinent issues. Three issues, one identified by the IXC and two “supplemental” issues identified by the CLEC were referred, the case was stayed, and the jury trial was stricken)06/29/2015
-Platts v. Kelly Services, Inc. (Action by employee of temporary employment service and “client” for whom the employee worked alleging disability discrimination under ICRA: defendants’ motions for summary judgment and to strike errata from plaintiff’s deposition: whether the plaintiff’s “errata” were unauthorized or permissible substantive changes to deposition testimony under Rule 30(e); whether the plaintiff’s “public policy” claim was preempted by the ICRA; whether the “client” of the temporary employment service could be held liable for alleged disability discrimination; and whether the plaintiff had generated genuine issues of material fact on his ICRA disability discrimination claim) 05/26/2015
-Starbuck v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al (Smoker brought product liability and fraud claims against tobacco companies for damages from lung cancer, as an individual claim in the wake of decertification of a class in Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc., 945 So.2d (Fla. 2006), cert. denied, 552 U.S. 941 (2007); smoker’s motion for new trial: whether jury foreperson’s consultation of dictionary definitions of “addiction” tainted the verdict; whether the jury’s threshold determination that he was not addicted to cigarettes containing nicotine was against the great weight of the evidence; and whether a jury instruction imposing a temporal limitation on when the smoker was addicted was confusing and prejudicial)05/04/2015
-Whitney v. Franklin General Hospital, et a (Action by medical records clerk arising from sexual harassment by the medical director of a hospital, including sexual harassment, retaliation, disability, and FMLA claims: defendants’ motion for summary judgment: timeliness of the sexual harassment claims, sufficiency of the evidence of violations of the ICRA, Title VII, the ADA, and the FMLA, whether two entities providing management services to the hospital could be held liable where they were not the plaintiff’s employer, and individual liability of the chief executive officer of the hospital; plaintiff’s motion to amend her complaint to add “whistleblower” and “discharge in violation of public policy” claims: timeliness and diligence of the plaintiff in seeking leave to amend)l 04/21/2015
-U.S. v. Quality Egg, LLC, et al (Memorandum opinion and order on defendants’ pre-sentencing motions; defendants pleaded guilty to violating 21 U.S.C. § 331(a) by shipping and selling shell eggs that contained Salmonella Enteritidis across state lines as responsible corporate officers; defendants subsequently filed motions alleging that a term of imprisonment for their offenses would be unconstitutional under the Eighth and Fifth Amendments and that a finding by the Court that defendants had relevant knowledge of the conduct underlying their strict liability offenses would be unconstitutional under the Sixth Amendment; the Court rejected defendants’ motions, finding defendants had relevant knowledge and imposed a three-month term of imprisonment.)04/14/2015
-Scott v. City of Sioux City, Iowa & Paul Eckert (Action by a long-time city employee asserting claims, pursuant to Title VII and ICRA that, over a period of almost nine years, she was retaliated against by the city and the former city manager for her 2004 complaint that the city manager sexually harassed her from 2000 to 2004; ruling on unsealing the ruling on the parties’ motions in limine.)04/06/2015
-Scott v. City of Sioux City, Iowa & Paul Eckert (Action by a long-time city employee asserting claims, pursuant to Title VII and ICRA that, over a period of almost nine years, she was retaliated against by the city and the former city manager for her 2004 complaint that the city manager sexually harassed her from 2000 to 2004; parties’ motions in limine, redacted public version.)03/17/2015
-FDIC v. Dosland, et al. (action by FDIC, as receiver for a failed bank, seeking damages from the former officers and directors of the failed bank for gross negligence, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty, and third-party complaint by officers and directors against the United States, acting as the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), alleging violation of duties to the bank, officers, directors, shareholders, and accountholders by failing to analyze accurately the bank’s investments and to take more timely action to remedy the bank’s alleged investment violations; OTS’s motion to dismiss third-party complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) under the “discretionary function exception” to Federal Tort Claims Act jurisdiction) 03/06/2015
-FDIC-R v. Dosland, et al. (action by FDIC, as receiver for a failed bank, seeking damages from the former officers and directors of the failed bank for gross negligence, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty, and third-party complaint by officers and directors against the United States, acting as the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), alleging violation of duties to the bank, officers, directors, shareholders, and accountholders by failing to analyze accurately the bank’s investments and to take more timely action to remedy the bank’s alleged investment violations; third-party plaintiff’s motion for additional jurisdictional discovery to overcome the “discretionary function exception” to jurisdiction under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)) 02/11/2015
-Garcia De Alvarez v. U.S. (Motion for relief from sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 by a federal prisoner asserting ineffective assistance of counsel; petitioner’s claims denied without hearing as to trial counsel’s failure to seek a bill or particulars, explain alternatives to trial in “laymen’s” terms, and failure to challenge drug quantity and purity; evidentiary hearing granted on petitioner’s claim that trial counsel failed to interview and present potential witnesses that the petitioner had identified)02/06/2015
-Catipovic v. Turley (A former Iowa resident sued to recover damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment from an Irish citizen arising from the failure of an alleged partnership to develop ethanol production facilities in Eastern Europe, and the jury found no contract, but awarded $2 million for unjust enrichment; parties’ motions post-trial motions: defendant’s renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law and alternative motion for remittitur of damages or new trial; plaintiff’s motion to amend complaint post-trial to add a fraud claim purportedly tried by implied consent)01/29/2015
-Progressive Casualty Ins. Co. v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., as Receiver, et al. (Action by an insurer of former bank officers and directors against the FDIC, as receiver for a failed bank, seeking declaratory judgment concerning coverage of the FDIC-R’s claims against the officers and directors for gross negligence, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty; plaintiff’s motion to strike affidavit of one director in support of opposing party’s motion for summary judgment; cross-motions for summary judgment on interpretation and construction of policy exclusions and plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on directors’ and officers’ counterclaims for breach of contract and breach of implied warranty)01/23/2015
-Scott v. City of Sioux City, Iowa & Paul Eckert (Action by a long-time city employee asserting claims, pursuant to Title VII and ICRA that, over a period of almost nine years, she was retaliated against by the city and the former city manager for her 2004 complaint that the city manager sexually harassed her from 2000 to 2004; defendant city’s motion for summary judgment: application of Morgan to an alleged “continuing violation” retaliation claim, availability of a “retaliatory hostile work environment” claim, and existence of a jury question on timely incidents of alleged retaliation; defendant city’s motion to exclude testimony from two experts: damages expert’s calculations of damages based on untimely incidents of alleged retaliation and non-treating psychologist’s opinions that the plaintiff’s behavior was consistent with that of sexual harassment victims and that it was “reasonable” “[f]rom a psychological perspective,” and that the city’s anti-harassment policy, procedures, and investigations were deficient for various reasons, where no “sexual harassment” claim was asserted) 12/22/2014
-Stults v. International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. & Bush Boake Allen, Inc. (products liability action, seeking damages for a lung injury to a consumer of microwave popcorn allegedly caused by diacetyl in the popcorn’s butter flavoring; post-trial motions after defense verdict: motion for new trial based on allowing jurors to hear two defense experts’ testimony before their testimony was excluded in whole or in part, and admission of another expert’s testimony over Daubert objections; motion for judgment as a matter of law based on the defendants’ specific defenses and on certain elements or parts of elements of the plaintiffs’ “breach of implied warranty” claim)10/23/2014
-Daniels v. City of Sioux City (Action by arrestee pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting an “excessive force” claim against a city police officer; police officer’s motion for summary judgment: qualified immunity to § 1983 claim of “excessive force” and state law claim of “assault”) 10/23/2014
-FDIC-R v. Dosland, et al. (action by FDIC, as receiver for a failed bank, seeking damages from the former officers and directors of the failed bank for gross negligence, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty, and third-party complaint by officers and directors against the United States, acting as the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), alleging violation of duties to the bank, officers, directors, shareholders, and accountholders by failing to analyze accurately the bank’s investments and to take more timely action to remedy the bank’s alleged investment violations, third-party plaintiff’s motion for jurisdictional discovery to overcome the “discretionary function exception” to jurisdiction under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)) 10/07/2014
-Aguilera v. Wright County (Action by state prisoner granted post-conviction relief from a second-degree murder conviction in 1996 for a Brady violation who subsequently pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter before a new trial in 2012: State defendants’ motion to dismiss: federal claims: sufficiency of allegations of “bad faith” by investigator defendants and their responsibility for nondisclosures to support Brady claim, qualified immunity, and “favorable termination” requirement under Heck v. Humphrey; state tort claims: whether certain state tort claims were functional equivalents of intentional torts excepted from the waiver of sovereign immunity under the Iowa Tort Claims Act, Iowa Code § 669.14(4); availability of a state tort claim for obstruction of justice analogous to a criminal offense defined by Iowa Code § 719.3) 10/06/2014
-Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, et al. (action by an insurer of former bank officers and directors against the FDIC, as receiver for a failed bank, seeking declaratory judgment concerning coverage of the FDIC-R’s claims against the officers and directors for gross negligence, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty; plaintiff’s motion to strike certain affirmative defenses: appeals by the insurer and one of its reinsurers of magistrate judge’s order denying attorney-client privilege and work-product protection for documents consisting of communications between the insurer and its reinsurers, sought by the FDIC-R)10/03/2014
-Van Stelton v. Van Stelton (Federal civil rights litigation, motions for summary judgment concerning civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and pendent state law claims for false arrest, malicious prosecution, slander and libel, breach of fiduciary duty and tortious interference with prospective business advantage; motion for summary judgment; reviewing whether plaintiffs satisfied § 1983’s under color of state law requirement as to two groups of defendants; determining whether defendants violated a plaintiff’s First Amendment rights by not permitted him to state his side of an incident before being arrested or by interfering with plaintiffs’ ability to see their stepmother; analyzing whether defendants violated a plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, by their warrantless arrest of him and their subsequent search of that plaintiff’s tape recorder without a search warrant; reviewing whether plaintiffs’ claims against defendants for violation of their Fifth Amendment due process rights failed as a matter of law because the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause applies only to the federal government or federal actions; determining whether defendants violated plaintiffs’ due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment in their actions related to one plaintiff’s arrest for assault and trespassing; analysis of whether plaintiffs’ false arrest claims against one group of defendants failed as a matter of law because those defendants had probable cause for arresting one of the plaintiffs; determining whether a false arrest claim under Iowa law would lie against a person who reported a crime but did not instigate the arrest; analysis of whether plaintiffs’ claims for malicious prosecution failed as a matter of law because there was probable cause for one plaintiff’s arrest and prosecution; analyzing whether defendants’ alleged statement in booking information constituted defamation; determining on plaintiffs’ breach of fiduciary duty claims whether lawyer owed a fiduciary duty to plaintiffs and whether such a claim was bared by res judicata; and analysis of whether a genuine issue of material fact existed in the summary judgment record which would permit a reasonable fact finder to conclude that defendants had interfered with plaintiffs’ prospective business opportunities.) 09/30/2014
-Pick v. City of Remsen (former long-time operations director of the utilities department of a city brought numerous claims against the city and various city officials arising from or related to his termination when his position was ostensibly “eliminated” by the city’s utilities board; former employee’s motion in limine: exclusion of evidence of IPERS benefits on the condition that the former employee excluded from any claim for back pay any unpaid contributions to IPERS that the city had not paid since his discharge; the city’s motion in limine: evidence of settlement discussions, evidence of liability insurance, evidence of a “tire-slashing” incident, testimony from law enforcement officers, evidence supporting “due process” claims no longer at issue, and evidence that there was no “going away” party for the former employee)09/02/2014
-Pick v. City of Remsen, et al. (Employment discrimination case, motion for summary judgment; analyzing whether defendants’ alleged statements constituted defamation; analyzing whether defendants violated plaintiff’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, by searching plaintiff’s public office for a trail camera and then seizing that trail camera without a search warrant; review of whether plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claims were preempted by the Iowa Civil Rights Act to the extent plaintiff relies on the same discriminatory acts alleged in support of his claims of unlawful discrimination under that act; determination of whether plaintiff had generated a genuine issue of material fact as to whether defendants’ stated reason for eliminating his position was pretextual so as to preclude summary judgment on plaintiff’s Pick’s disability discrimination claim; analysis of whether plaintiff had established a prima facie case of age discrimination; granting summary judgment on plaintiff’s withdrawn claim of gender discrimination; and determining whether plaintiff could establish the causation element of his disability retaliation and First Amendment retaliation claims.) 08/27/2014
-Security National Bank v. Abbott Laboratories (Order sanctioning lawyer for obstructive disposition practices; Court discusses the impropriety of “form” objections, witness coaching, and excessive interruptions during depositions.)07/28/2014
-Killer Joe Nevada, LLC v. Leigh Leaverton, Brittany Bolan, & Jason Fills (Action for infringement of a copyright for a motion picture by transferring copies of that motion picture among peer-to-peer network users; plaintiff’s voluntary dismissal of claim against an alleged infringer identified from her IP address: whether the voluntary dismissal, with prejudice, of the copyright infringement claim mooted the defendant’s counterclaim of non-infringement and whether the defendant is entitled to damages as a “prevailing party” as a condition of dismissal) 07/17/2014
-David & Barbara Stults v. International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. and Bush Boake Allen, Inc. (Diversity products liability action, motions for summary judgment; analyzing plaintiffs’ failure to warn, implied warranty, and design defect negligence claims; rejecting defendants’ argument that plaintiffs could not establish proximate cause for their failure to warn claim, concluding that, given the circumstances of the case, questions of proximate cause were for the jury to determine; concluding that plaintiffs’ breach of implied warranty claims did not merge with their design defect negligence claims; and denying summary judgment on plaintiffs’ design defect negligence claim because the materials submitted by plaintiffs was sufficient for a jury to conclude that a reasonable alternative design was available to defendants’ butter flavorings with diacetyl.) 07/11/2014