Decisions by Judge Mark W. Bennett
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-Spanier v. American Pop Corn Company, et al. (Diversity products liability action, motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, finding that because two of the defendant maintained registered agents for service of process in Iowa, they had consented to jurisdiction in Iowa and all reside in Iowa for the purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1391(c), also applying five factor test, the court concludes that it has specific personal jurisdiction over defendants who were bulk suppliers of butter flavoring to Iowa popcorn plants and, consequently, defendants’ actions in Iowa allegedly resulted in dangerous popcorn products being manufactured in Iowa which harmed plaintiffs, and defendants had not established that another manufacturer of butter flavoring was an indispensable party to this lawsuit.)04/14/2016
-Willis, et al. v. Palmer, et al.(Patients at the Civil Commitment Unit for Sexual Offenders (CCUSO) sued arguing their constitutional rights have been violated in a number of ways.)03/30/2016
-Grim v. Centrum Valley Farms, LLP (Action by laborer for egg producer alleging, inter alia, constructive discharge in violation of Iowa public policy, in retaliation for his claim for workers compensation benefits, by his employer’s failure to accommodate his work restrictions, and by his employer’s failure to pay overtime wages as required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); defendant’s motion to dismiss the constructive discharge claims: whether failure to accommodate will support a claim of constructive discharge in retaliation for filing a workers compensation claim; whether a retaliation/constructive discharge claim can be based on nothing more a statutory violation of failure to pay overtime wages)03/18/2016
-Newkirk v. GKN Armstrong Wheels, Inc. & John Does (Employment case, motion for partial summary judgment concerning civil rights violations Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and pendent state law claims for breach of contract, wrongful termination, defamation, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and intentional infliction of emotional distress; analysis under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 concerning whether plaintiff sufficiently pled claim for civil rights violation under VII for reverse race discrimination; and analyzing whether plaintiff’s pendent state law claims fail as a matter of law.) 03/09/2016
-Scott v. Benson & Smith (Civilly detained sexual offender brought a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action for declaratory relief. In his principal claim, detainee argued that he had a due process right to refuse unwanted medical treatment, pursuant to Supreme Court precedent in Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 720 (1997). Detainee also argued that the defendants were deliberately indifferent by providing him a medically restricted diet, making decision regarding his prosthetic leg and wheelchair, and not allowing him to travel to the University of Iowa for medical services. The court held that although citizens have a general right to refuse unwanted medical treatment, no law supported detainee's request for prospective injunctive relief because, after applying the Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1987) factors, the government often has a countervailing interest in the course of a detainee's medical treatment. Accordingly, the propriety of injunctive relief must be determined on a case by case basis. The court also held that the detainee had failed to establish that the defendants were deliberately indifferent regarding detainee's prosthetic leg and wheelchair; the detainee's claim related to a medically restricted diet was barred by the doctrine of res judicata; and the detainee had no constitutional right that would allow him to choose where he received medical services.)12/17/2015
-Mary E. Roth and Michael A. Roth, Individually and as Co-Executors of the Estate of Cletus Roth, et al. v. The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society (Motion by nursing home to compel arbitration of claims of decedent’s estate and decedent’s adult children for loss of consortium: effect of arbitration provision submitting “arbitrability” and other “threshhold” questions to the arbitrator; certification to the Iowa Supreme Court of questions concerning the effect of Iowa Code § 613.15 on whether the loss of consortium claims must be brought by the estate and arbitrated or whether the circumstances made it impossible, impracticable, or not in the best interest of the adult children for the estate to bring the consortium claims, such that the consortium claims should not be arbitrated)12/04/2015
-Henderson v. Crimmins, et al. (Motion for attorneys fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 pursuant to § 1988 fee-shifting statute: Attorney seeks recovery for over 60 hours before alerting defense counsel or defendants of the incoming lawsuit, where a resolution was achieved two days after the attorney contacted defense counsel; a high hourly rate is reasonable for someone with extensive experience, partially because it is expected that experienced attorneys will be more efficient with the use of their time, so, a percentage reduction is warranted where a request for an amount of hours is disproportionate to level of expertise, represented by the attorney’s hourly rate; a percentage reduction is warranted where an attorney repeatedly requests awards for unreasonably excessive and unnecessary work performed)12/01/2015
-Levi Wilson, et al v. Scott Lamp, et al. (Police officers, in search of a black suspect accused of stealing gasoline, initiated a traffic stop of a black driver and his six year old son with firearms drawn on them; plaintiffs complied with all of defendant officers’ orders, however, officers searched the plaintiff’s truck after they determined he was not the suspect they sought, officers kept a gun pointed at the child through the duration of the stop; claims for Fourth Amendment excessive force, made pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, state-law invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims, made pursuant to Iowa Tort Claims Act, survive Motions to Dismiss; negligence claim dismissed for failure to comply with the administrative requirements of the Iowa Tort Claims Act; determination of state constitutional claims analogous to federal Bivens claims reserved until the Iowa Supreme Court rules on Conklin v. State.) 11/03/2015
-Christensen v. Cargill, Inc. & Mark Struve (Employment discrimination, suit by former employee against former employer and co-employee alleging she was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment and retaliation under both the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and under Iowa Code 216; defendants’ motion for partial dismissal to dismissal of plaintiff’s complaint; among the issues in dispute in this litigation was whether claims that arose four years before the filing of an administrative charge are timely; whether the "harassment" employee suffered was based on her gender; whether plaintiff adequately plead facts showing that she suffered an adverse employment action for which her employee defendant was responsible; and, whether plaintiff adequately pleaded that employee defendant knew about her protected activity.)09/30/2015
-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