Decisions
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.


CategoryCase NameDate Filed
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Show details for CONLAW/FEDJUR - Constitutional Law/Federal Courts/Federal JurisdictionCONLAW/FEDJUR - Constitutional Law/Federal Courts/Federal Jurisdiction
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Gosch v. Sergeant Bluff-Luton Cmty. Sch. Dist. (action by parents of disabled child against teacher, principal, and school district asserting civil rights, disability discrimination, and tort claims: Plaintiff’s motion for new trial on unconstitutional seizure and negligence claims against teacher: challenge to sufficiency of the evidence denied, because, although the evidence was very close such that a verdict for either side would have been reasonable for a jury to reach, viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the verdict was not against the greater weight of the evidence; challenged remarks by defense counsel were either not improper or, if improper, were no more than minor aberrations made in passing that did not distort the weight of the evidence enough to deprive the plaintiffs of a fair trial; defense claims or contentions that were allegedly first raised at trial were not surprises amounting to a major variance in the defendants’ defense warranting a new trial)11/29/2017Mark W. Bennett
Ingram v. United States (Action by federal prisoner challenging geographic disparity in the application of § 851 enhancements: Eighth Amendment claim and equal protection/selective prosecution claim.)10/31/2017Mark W. Bennett
Church v. Anderson, et al. (Action by arrestee pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting an “excessive force” claim against a city police officer; the city, and the city police chief; defendants’ motions for summary judgment: analysis of whether plaintiff’s claims are barred under the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994); determination of whether defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on § 1983 claim of “excessive force” and state law claims.) 04/17/2017Mark W. Bennett
K.G., a minor, by and through his parents and next friends, Suzanne Gosch and Kevin Gosch v. Sergeant Bluff-Luton Community School District, et al. (action by parents of disabled child against teacher, principal, and school district for excessive use of force; summary judgment: IDEA exhaustion requirements for non-IDEA claims after Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, No. 15-497, 2017 WL 685533 (S. Ct. Feb. 22, 2017); sufficiency of claims of “excessive force” under the Fourth Amendment and “substantive due process” under the Fourteenth Amendment, including qualified immunity, disability discrimination claims, and state common-law claims of negligence, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress)03/23/2017Mark W. Bennett
Eugene Nelson v Charles City Comm. School Dist.01/18/2017Edward J McManus
Baldwin v. City of Esherville, et al (A resident brought claims against a city and city police officers pursuant to the Iowa and United States Constitutions and a state law claim for false arrest following his arrest for driving his ATV in violation of a state statute that was not, in fact, incorporated into the City Code; cross-motions for summary judgment: Iowa constitutional claims stayed pending determination by the Iowa Supreme Court of whether such a claim will lie; summary judgment granted for the defendants on the federal constitutional claims and state false arrest claim, because, while there was no probable cause or qualified immunity based on a “mistake of law” for an arrest pursuant to an ordinance that the arresting officers should reasonably have known was not part of the City Code, there was probable cause under another ordinance that the officers could reasonably, if mistakenly, believed was applicable, prior to the Iowa district court’s interpretation of it in the underlying criminal case)11/18/2016Mark W. Bennett
Patrick James Sr vs Cedar Rapids, City of, Grant Rasmussen and Bruce Payne07/19/2016Edward J McManus
Willis, et al v. Palmer, et al (The court denies the defendants' objection to court appointed experts under Federal Rule of Evidence 706. Pursuant to the court's prior order, the parties are given 45 days to nominate four witnesses. Of those four witnesses, Magistrate Judge C.J. Williams will select up to two experts to appoint in this case. Judge Williams will then over see the cultivation of the expert testimony and direct how compensation for the experts will be provided)(06/20/2016Mark W. Bennett
Willis, et al v. Palmer, et al (Following the court's order denying the defendants' motion for summary judgment, the court directs the parties to show cause why the court should not appoint its own expert under Federal Rule of Evidence 706 to answer three primary questions: 1) how Iowa’s civil commitment program compares to other civil commitment programs throughout the country; 2) what practices are medically accepted to treat sexual offenders; and 3) what is the likelihood that the treatment employed by the defendants will result in the plaintiffs progressing through treatment at CCUSO and achieving eventual release.)05/25/2016Mark W. Bennett
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.) 11/03/2015Mark W. Bennett
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”)07/16/2015Mark W. Bennett
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”) 10/23/2014Mark W. Bennett
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) 10/06/2014Mark W. Bennett
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.) 09/30/2014Mark W. Bennett
Virgil & CArol Van Stelton v. Jerry Van Stelton, et al. (Federal civil rights litigation, motions to dismiss concerning defendants’ counterclaim for abuse of process, reviewing requirements for abuse of process claims under Iowa law and analysis under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) concerning whether defendants’ sufficiently pled their counterclaim for abuse of process.)01/15/2014Mark W. Bennett
Aguilera v. Wright County, et al. (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) 01/06/2014Mark W. Bennett
Driesen v. Smith, et al. (Federal civil rights litigation, motions to dismiss concerning claims brought civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), and pendent state law claims for unjust enrichment and conspiracy to defraud; analysis under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) concerning whether the Rooker–Feldman doctrine bars the court's subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiffs’ claims. 01/02/2014Mark W. Bennett
DaCosta Daniels, et al v. The City of Sioux City, et al (Action by arrestee pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting an “excessive force” claim against a city police officer and the city, and “infliction of emotional distress” claims on behalf of the plaintiff’s daughter against the city and a community school district based on the showing of a video of the plaintiff’s arrest, months later, to her daughter’s middle school class by a different city employee and a school district employee; the school district’s motion to dismiss for lack of supplemental subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) over the state law claims against it) 11/08/2013Mark W. Bennett
Clay v. Woodbury County, Iowa, et al. (Action by pretrial detainee pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting “strip search” and “free speech retaliation” claims in violation of the United States and Iowa Constitutions: plaintiff’s motion to exclude defendants’ expert’s testimony for applying the wrong legal standard and offering legal conclusions; defendants’ motions (2) for summary judgment: whether the “strip search” claim alleged both a “violation of privacy” claim and an “excessive force” claim; whether the defendant officers had qualified immunity to the claims; and whether the alleged “strip search” was in retaliation for complaining about the plaintiff’s detention and a search of her purpose) 11/06/2013Mark W. Bennett
Peters v. Woodbury County (Action by pretrial detainee pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 asserting a “strip search,” use of “excessive force,” and “free speech retaliation”: defendants’ motions (2) for summary judgment: whether alleged “strip search” was a “search” at all or a “clothing exchange” and whether the defendant officers had qualified immunity; whether “excessive force” was used to compel compliance with an order to change into a jail uniform in front of officers; and whether the alleged “strip search” was in retaliation for complaining about the order to change into a jail uniform in front of officers) 10/25/2013Mark W. Bennett
Virgil Van Stelton, et al v. Jerry Van Stelton, et al. (Federal civil rights litigation, motions to dismiss concerning claims brought civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq.; and pendent state law claims for false arrest, fraud, malicious prosecution, slander and libel, and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage; analysis under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) concerning whether plaintiffs’ sufficiently pled claims for civil rights violations under § 1983; RICO, First Amendment right to petition, slander and libel, tortious interference with prospective business relations claim, Ongoing Criminal Conduct violation, false arrest, malicious prosecution, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty.)07/17/2013Mark W. Bennett
Rattray, et al. v. Woodbury County, Iowa (Action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging county jail’s strip-searches of three misdemeanor arrestees: one plaintiff’s motion to reconsider summary judgment in favor of the county on her “manner” strip-search claim pursuant to Rule 52(b) and Rule 59(e) concerning, inter alia, whether the plaintiff must show that a non-participant was actually present who could have observed the strip search, whether or not any non-participant actually did observe the strip search) 01/30/2013Mark W. Bennett
Rattray, Lambert, & Mathes v. Woodbury County, IA (Action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging county jail’s strip-searches of three misdemeanor arrestees: defendant county’s motions for reconsideration of a prior order granting summary judgment in one plaintiff’s favor on her claim and seeking summary judgment in the county’s favor on all of the plaintiffs’ claims in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington, ___ U.S. ___, 132 S. Ct. 1510 (2012): whether Florence states a general rule that reasonable suspicion is not required to strip search detainees, subject to as-yet not fully defined exceptions, or only a very narrow exception to the requirement of reasonable suspicion in the case of detainees who will be admitted to “general population”; whether Florence is a change in the law warranting reconsideration and withdrawal of prior summary judgment in favor of one plaintiff on her “no reasonable suspicion” strip-search claim; whether Florence warrants summary judgment in favor of the county on all plaintiffs’ “no reasonable suspicion” and “manner” strip-search clalims) 12/10/2012Mark W. Bennett
Lampman, et al. v. Ternus, et al. (Motion for Summary Judgment, § 1983 case involving Fourteenth Amendment due process claim, plaintiffs, court reporters for Iowa District Associate Judges, alleged that they were entitled to due process, including notice and an opportunity to be heard, prior to employment termination or reduction in hours; cross motions for summary judgment; analysis of whether, assuming arguendo that Iowa law creates a property interest in plaintiffs’ employment, plaintiffs were not entitled to pre-termination notice and an opportunity to be heard under the “reorganization exception” to the general rule that requires due process prior to a public employee’s termination.)02/06/2012Mark W. Bennett
Minten v. Weber (Action by former deputy sheriff against county sheriff for First Amendment retaliation, arising from discharge for offering to testify in a citizen’s First Amendment retaliation lawsuit; after summary judgment for the plaintiff, the matter was set for a jury trial on damages only; motions in limine: admissibility of the outcome of administrative proceedings on the former deputy sheriff’s claim for unemployment compensation and the outcome of the underlying citizen’s lawsuit; admissibility of evidence of other purported reasons for the former deputy sheriff’s termination)01/26/2012Mark W. Bennett
Woodward v. O'Brien, et al. (Motion for Summary Judgment, prisoner § 1983 case involving Eighth Amendment claim of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, order accepting Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation regarding defendants’ motion for summary judgment, granting summary judgment because plaintiff is unable to show defendants ignored an acute or escalating situation, or that the defendants’ delays in providing him with treatment adversely affected the prognosis or ultimate outcome of his eye condition. )04/20/2011Mark W. Bennett
Rattray v. Woodbury County, Iowa (In this civil rights “strip search” case, the court was asked to decide what to make of an initial verdict that was clearly at odds with the jury instructions, and the jurors attempt to cure this inconsistency in a second verdict after the court ordered further deliberations. The court concluded that because there was no legally plausible explanation for the dramatic increase in emotional distress damages awarded by the jury between the two verdicts, a new trial was imperative to prevent a miscarriage of justice.)03/07/2011Mark W. Bennett
Woodard v. O'Brien -- Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion for summary judgment. Despite anecdotal evidence suggesting defendants' actions caused plaintiff to suffer needless pain, court reluctantly found plaintiff had failed to meet his burden to offer verifiable medical evidence that defendants' actions caused plaintiff harm. Plaintiff therefore failed to show defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, and the court recommended defendants' motionfor summary judgment be granted.01/10/2011Paul A. Zoss
Aquino v. Delores San Nicolas, et al. (an alien convicted of drug offenses asserted claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and CNMI law arising from her detention pending deportation, without review by a judge, for 88 days after the end of her sentence; defendants’ second round of motions to dismiss the plaintiff’s recast claims of violation of due process and intentional infliction of emotional distress, based on failure to deport the plaintiff “immediately” upon the completion of her sentence and continuing her detention without review by a judge, and new claims of breach of contract, based on alleged violation of a plea agreement requiring “immediate” deportation, and tortious breach of duty, based on breach of a duty to deport the plaintiff “immediately” upon the end of her sentence allegedly created by the judgment and commitment order; whether dismissal of claims this time should be with prejudice)01/05/2011Mark W. Bennett
Rattray, et al. v. Woodbury County, Ia, et al : (Action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging county jail’s strip-searches of three misdemeanor arrestees; plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment: constitutionality of a “blanket” strip-search policy, no longer in force, and conduct pursuant to it, including whether resolution of those issues is required where claims for declaratory judgment were withdrawn and the determinations are not necessary to resolution of the claims and would involve unnecessary determination of constitutional issues; qualified immunity, including proper identification of the right that must be clearly established and breached to overcome qualified immunity; and severance of trials, where one plaintiff must only prove damages, but the other plaintiffs must prove liability and damages) 12/01/2010Mark W. Bennett
Leventhal v. Schaffer (Events on RAGBRAI 2005 led to plaintiff William Eugene Leventhal’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action for unlawful arrest, ultimately resulting in a three-day bench trial against defendant Sergeant Daniel Schaffer. Leventhal established that Schaffer violated his Fourth Amendment rights, because Schaffer lacked probable cause in arresting Leventhal for cursing and pointing his finger at Schaffer. Nevertheless, Leventhal did not win his lawsuit, because the court found that Schaffer was entitled to qualified immunity.)09/09/2010Mark W. Bennett
Peteson v. Prosser -- Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion for summary judgment in case seeking damages from various police officers and government officials for false arrest, criminal assault, falsifying public documents, criminal conspiracy to falsify public records, evidence tampering, conspiracy to induce false testimony, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation of characater, violation of civil rights, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, perjury, criminal conspiracy to violate constitutional rights, and obstruction of justice. Court found material issues of fact existed for trial on claims of false arrest and assault against two police officers, and further found the officers were not entitled to qualified immunity on those claims. Court recommended all other claims and parties be dismissed.03/04/2010Paul A. Zoss
Report and Recommendation on defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff alleged defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, causing him to suffer ongoing, severe pain and ultimately resulting in removal of his left eye. Court found material issues of disputed fact existed, precluding summary judgment as to all but one of the defendants. Court further found that either plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies, or alternatively a material issue of material fact existed regarding whether he properly exhausted his remedies. Court further found defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity. 01/14/2010Paul A. Zoss
Shannon v. Koehler, et al. : (Motion for Summary Judgment; the court denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, which requested dismissal of all plaintiff’s claims – the court found that there were genuine issues of material fact concerning whether the officer was entitled to qualified immunity for the plaintiff’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim based the officer’s alleged use of excessive force in arresting the plaintiff, because the record, which contained a surveillance tape, left unresolved several disputes, such as whether the plaintiff made physical contact with the officer before the officer took him down and whether the officer discontinued his use of force once the plaintiff submitted to arrest or was otherwise subdued; the defendants’ motion was also denied as to their claim that the City and Police Chief were not liable under § 1983, as the court found genuine issues of material fact concerning whether there was a continuing, widespread, persistent pattern of unconstitutional misconduct, whether the Police Chief showed deliberate indifference or tacit authorization of misconduct due to his allegedly having notice of prior incidents of police misconduct and deliberately failing to act on them, and whether these actions were the moving force behind the officer’s alleged use of excessive force on the plaintiff; the court found genuine issues of material fact concerning whether the officer was liable for assault and battery under Iowa law, and whether the City and Police Chief were liable for assault and battery under a respondeat superior theory.)12/04/2009Mark W. Bennett
Arrington v. Richardson, et al. (Motion to Dismiss; the court denied defendants’ motion to dismiss; finding that plaintiff may enforce the federal rights created by the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2721, et seq., under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; although Congress included a remedial scheme in the Act, the court found that the scheme complemented § 1983 enforcement and was not intended to supplant § 1983.)10/01/2009Mark W. Bennett
Hart v. Baldwin -- Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion for summary judgment in prisoner 1983 case where plaintiff claimed unconstitutional retrictions on his mail. Court found plaintiff had failed to exhaust administrative remedies with regard to claims for monetary damages, and claims for equitable relief were rendered moot when prisoner was transferred to another facility.07/23/2009Paul A. Zoss
Leventhal v. Sgt. Daniel Schaffer, et al. ((Motion for Summary Judgment; defendants move for summary judgment on all remaining claims, court grants motion regarding 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim for excessive force and Iowa Tort Claims Act, denies motion regarding § 1983 claim for unlawful arrest as the court found both a genuine issue of material fact concerning whether defendant had probable cause to arrest Leventhal and whether defendant was entitled to qualified immunity.)03/24/2009Mark W. Bennett
Leventhal v. Schaffer -- Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion for partial summary judgment in this action for damages pursuant to 42 USC 1983. Court found officer was entitled to qualified immunity on plaintiff's claims of false arrest and use of excessive force, and plaintiff had failed to exhaust administrative remedies on state law claims.12/31/2008Paul A. Zoss
Rattray, et al v. Woodbury County, et al (Action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging county jail’s alleged blanket strip-search policy: lead plaintiff’s motion to certify class: prerequisites of Rule 23(a); requirements to certify a class pursuant to Rule 23(b)(1)(A), to avoid the risk of inconsistent or varying adjudications, or pursuant to Rule 23(b)(3), because the questions of law or fact common to the class members predominate over any questions affecting only individual members and a class action is superior to other available methods for fairly and efficiently adjudicating the controversy, including extent to which questions of the existence of grounds for individualized suspicion predominate over questions common to the class, such as the existence and constitutionality of a blanket strip-search policy) 09/02/2008Mark W. Bennett
McNeal v. SDG Macerich Properties, L.P., et al. (removed action by African American business owner against owner and managers of a shopping mall pursuant to Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a, and the Iowa Civil Rights Act, Iowa Code § 216.7, for racial discrimination in public accommodations in the leasing of store space and harassment; defendants’ motion in limine seeking to exclude the following categories of evidence: evidence of an allegedly phony signature on one of three originals of a lease; evidence of a subsequent investigation by a city attorney and member of the civil rights commission; evidence of emotional distress of anyone other than the plaintiff; evidence of the plaintiff’s prior attempts to lease space in the mall; evidence of future profits of the plaintiff’s business; and evidence of settlement offers or negotiations; plaintiff’s motion in limine seeking to exclude the following categories of evidence: evidence of the plaintiff’s husband’s previous civil rights litigation; and evidence that the defendants filed suit first by bringing a small claim for unpaid rent)07/01/2008Mark W. Bennett
Jones v. Wilder-Tomlinson -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 USC 2254. In recommending the petition be granted, the Court found no probable cause existed for Jones's arrest on drug paraphernalia charge in violation of city ordinance based solely on the presence of a small scale in the vehicle in which Jones was a passenger. 04/04/2008Paul A. Zoss
USA v. Douglas Johnson --Report and Recommendation on defendant's motions to suppress evidence seized from execution of two separate search warrants. Court found the first warrant application to be deficient, and so much so that the court held the Leon exclusionary rule should apply to the evidence seized in execution of the warrant. Court found the second warrant contained sufficient information to support the magistrate's probable cause determination, and further found that in any event, the officers' reliance on the warrant was reasoanble and in good faith.04/01/2008Paul A. Zoss
Dible v. Scholl -- Memorandum Opinion and Order of Dismissal. Plaintiff filed this action under 42 USC 1983, for damages resulting from loss of good time credit. Court held disciplinary notice issued to plaintiff was constitutionally deficient, and defendants were not protected by qualified immunity. However, in light of 12-15-07 opinion in Entzi v. Redmann, 485 F.3d 998 (8th Cir. 2007). court reluctantly concluded plaintiff's action was barred by Heck v. Humphrey.03/07/2008Paul A. Zoss
Bruning, et al. v. Carroll Community School District (Sex discrimination-alleged sexual harassment of female middle school students; claims for violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, violation of plaintiffs’ Substantive Due Process Rights, violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681, violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, Iowa Code Ch. 216, violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 through defendants’ permitting plaintiffs’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause and the Constitution of the State of Iowa to be violated, negligence, assault, tortious infliction of severe emotional distress, ruling on motion for summary judgment concerning plaintiffs’ substantive due process claim, equal protection claim, claims brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title IX claims, claims brought under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, Iowa Code § 216.9, and Iowa state law tort claims for negligence, premises liability and failure to protect; analysis of school district’s knowledge of the harassment, examination of whether the school district was deliberately indifferent to harassment, review of the severity and pervasiveness of the harassment, analysis of whether the school district was exercising discretionary function in disciplining students and was immune from liability for plaintiffs’ tort claims under the Iowa Municipal Tort Claims Act, Iowa Code § 670.4, examination of whether school district breached a duty to plaintiffs to protect them from student-on-student harassment, and with regard to plaintiffs’ premises liability claim, analysis of whether a genuine issue of material fact had been generated as to whether harm to plaintiffs caused by physical assaults at school was reasonably foreseeable)04/19/2007Mark W. Bennett
Kirt v. Fashion Bug, Inc. : (customer’s right-to-contract race discrimination claim under § 1981 and “public accommodations” race discrimination claim under Iowa Code § 216.7 against retail store: defendant’s motion for summary judgment: whether a store manager’s intervention and invitation to an African-American female customer to continue shopping after a store employee’s apparently racially charged diatribe demonstrated that there was no interference with the customer’s right to contract under § 1981 or her right to public accommodations under § 216.7 where the customer left the store without attempting to make a purchase)03/28/2007Mark W. Bennett
Jordan v. Carr -- Findings of Face, Conclusions of Law, and Order on bench trial in case brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 1983. Jordan, a Muslim, alleged jail official violated his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion by failing to allow him to attend both Christian and Muslim services within the jail. Court found Joran failed to establish the defendant's actions substantially burdened his sincerely held religious beliefs, or that Jordan's rights were violated. Judgment for defendant.09/22/2006Paul A. Zoss
Bruning, et al. v. Carroll Community School District, et al. (Sex discrimination-alleged sexual harassment of female middle school students; claims for violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, violation of plaintiffs’ Substantive Due Process Rights, violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681, violation of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, Iowa Code Ch. 216, violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 through defendants’ permitting plaintiffs’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause and the Constitution of the State of Iowa to be violated, negligence, assault, tortious infliction of severe emotional distress, and slander, ruling on motion for summary judgment concerning slander claims; analysis of whether statements attributed to defamatory, and alleged to be defamatory, are true and therefore do not support a claim of slander; analysis of whether statements attributed to defendant are protected opinion even if untrue.)05/03/2006Mark W. Bennett
United States of America v. Wendelsdorf -- Report and recommendation on motion to suppress evidence arising from execution of search warrant at defendant's residence. Court found probable cause to support the warrant and recommended denial of motion.06/09/2005Paul A. Zoss
United States of America v. Wendelsdorf -- Report and recommendation on defendant's motion to dismiss indictment on basis of pre-indictment delay, or alternatively to amend or strike one count for insufficiency of evidence. Court found defendant failed to show improper motive for pre-indictment delay and failed to show prejudice resulting therefrom. Court further found question of sufficiency of evidence is one for jury. Court recommended denying motion on all grounds. 06/03/2005Paul A. Zoss
Tinius v. St. Anthony Regional Hospital, Inc., et al. (Claims arising from an incident at St. Anthony Regional Hospital in Carroll, Iowa, during which plaintiff contends that he was unlawfully confined against his will and was catheterized without his consent. Plaintiff asserts claims of false imprisonment, medical battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and negligence.)12/22/2004Mark W. Bennett
Tinius v. Carroll County (Civil rights; motion to dismiss; where as a result of the court’s prior rulings all of plaintiff’s claims which would confer original jurisdiction on the court have been dismissed, defendants request that the court decline to continue to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims against them; assessment of whether that the values of economy, convenience, fairness, and comity require the court to dismiss plaintiff’s remaining state law claims.)12/20/2004Mark W. Bennett
Marvin v. North Central Iowa Mental Health Center, Inc. (Civil rights; motion for summary judgment; assessment of whether defendant community mental health center was a state actor; determination of of whether there was pervasive entwinement of public officials and actions of defendant.) 09/17/2004Mark W. Bennett
Jacobsen v.Department of Transportation, et al. (Civil rights; motion for summary judgment; assessment of whether plaintiff’s claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3) failed as a matter of law because of a lack of evidence that the alleged conspiracy was motivated by an invidious, class-based animus against plaintiff; consideration of the defendants’ arguments that the doctrine of sovereign immunity precludes plaintiff’s claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against defendants in their official capacities; analysis of whether plaintiff had generated a genuine issue of material fact that governor took a prohibited action himself or failed to take any required action that caused plaintiff’s alleged constitutional deprivation; assessment of whether plaintiff could generate a genuine issue of material fact that assistant attorney general took an action which deprived plaintiff of a protected right; analysis of whether certain defendants’ actions in moving plaintiff’s news racks were reasonable in light of the department of transportation’s ability to regulate such conduct in a non-public fora. ) 08/26/2004Mark W. Bennett
Albrant v. Heartland Foods, Inc. (Order on defendants' motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs alleged violation of Equal Pay Act and Iowa Civil Rights Act. Court found plaintiffs had made out prima facie case of gender-based pay discrimination as to defendant Heartland Foods, and denied motion on that basis. Court found plaintiffs had failed to show they were employees of defendant Advance Foods, and granted motion as to that defendant.)08/19/2004Paul A. Zoss
Tiniuis v. Carroll County Sheriff Department, et al. (Civil rights; motion for summary judgment; assessment of whether plaintiff’s allegations of unlawful detention can support a substantive due process claim or must be analyzed under the Fourteenth Amendment’s reasonableness standard governing searches and seizures; analysis of law enforcement officer defendants’ claim of that they were justified in detaining plaintiff under the officers’ “community caretaking” function, in order to investigate plaintiff’s physical and mental condition; consideration of the defendants’ arguments that they are shielded from liability because they are entitled to qualified immunity for their actions; analysis of whether the defendant officers were properly performing their "community caretaking" function when they detained plaintiff and later restrained him during catheterization procedure such that they are entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff’s claims for assault and battery; examination of whether plaintiff can establish that the defendants' conduct was sufficiently extreme and outrageous to support plaintiff’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress; analysis of whether as a matter of law the defendants’ actions constituted an intrusion which would establish an invasion of privacy tort; assessment of whether plaintiff could establish that the law enforcement officers breached a duty of care owed to him such as would support plaintiff’s claim of negligence; with respect to claims against medical personnel, analysis of whether plaintiff’s claim of lack of consent is controlled by the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act or by Iowa state law.)06/14/2004Mark W. Bennett
Sherman, et al. v. Kasotakis d/b/a The Horizsons Family Restaurant (Race discrimination in a public accommodation case under § 1981, § 2000a, and Iowa Code § 217.6; jury verdict for each of the four individual plaintiffs in the amount of $1.00 in nominal damages and $12,500.00 in punitive damages; defendant’s motion for partial judgment as a matter of law, partial new trial or remittitur as to punitive damages award; plaintiffs’ motion to amend the judgment to include injunctive relief and application for attorney’s fees; failure to renew motion for judgment as a matter of law at the close of all the evidence or object in any way to jury instructions constituted waiver; under plain error analysis evidence supported holding employer liable for offending actions of employee where offending employee’s actions were ratified or approved of by supervising night manager; under plain error analysis jury instructions on punitive damages conformed to the law and adequately conveyed the rights and burdens of the respective parties; partial motion for judgment as a matter of law denied; partial motion for new trial on the issue of the constitutionality of the punitive damages award; application of the factors enumerated in BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559, 116 S. Ct. 1589, 134 L. Ed. 2d 908 (1996) and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408, 123 S. Ct. 1513, 155 L. Ed. 2d 585 (2003); conduct in the upper echelon of reprehensibility; ratio not as important in civil rights cases where only nominal and punitive damages are awarded—reducing ratio to single digit multiplier in this instance would eviscerate the intent behind punitive damages; predictably, no similar civil penalties—which is precisely the reason for the creation of federal civil rights law; punitive damages award under the particular facts and circumstances was reasonable; motion for partial new trial denied; remittitur not warranted as the differential between nominal and punitive damages was neither monstrous nor shocking to the conscience; plaintiffs’ motion to amend judgment granted; equitable relief ordered included two-year injunction, posting of notice, dissemination of anti-discrimination in a public accommodation policy, and maintenance of records; application for attorney’s fees granted with some modification to the claimed rates and reasonable hours; attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $19,692.46.04/19/2004Mark W. Bennett
Bales v. Ault (Report and Recommendation on motion to dismiss. Plaintiff alleged violation of rights under 8th and 14th Amendments in connection with prison's revised property policy that prohibits inmates from having electric razors or beard trimmers. Court found policy change did not constitute an atypical and significant hardship in relation to ordinary incidents of prison life, and further found deprivation of electric razor did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Court recommended granting defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).01/08/2004Paul A. Zoss
In Re Application of Brant : (Application to proceed in forma pauperis; order requiring filing of application effective date that applicant attempted to file it, but denying application for failure to comply with 28 U.S.C. § 1915, because application fails to identify the “nature of the action”) 12/22/2003Mark W. Bennett
Schultzen v. Woodbury Central Community School District (Joint Motion to Dismiss; Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e); review and discussion of factors the court considers when deciding whether parties’ joint motion to dismiss should be granted).09/16/2003Mark W. Bennett
Baker v. John Morrell & Co. (After jury in Title VII sexual harassment and retaliation case returned 1.52 million dollar verdict in favor of plaintiff, plaintiff moved to amend her complaint to add parallel state-law claims. Court denied amendment on March 17, 2003, and plaintiff moved to reconsider. Motion to reconsider granted, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8, 15(b), and 54(c). Accordingly, Title VII’s statutory damages cap did not limit plaintiff’s recovery to $300,000. Court then considered defendant’s motion to amend judgment because, post-trial, defendant sought remittal of the emotional distress damages and punitive damages --- arguments the court did not address in its previous ruling because of the damages cap. Evidence was sufficient to support jury’s awards of compensatory and punitive damages and awards were not grossly excessive. Punitive damages reduced in accordance with statutory damages cap.) 06/11/2003Mark W. Bennett
Baker v. John Morrell & Co. (Post-trial motion to amend judgment and motion for attorney’s fees in employment discrimination case; plaintiff prevailed at trial in sexual discrimination Title VII suit; plaintiff seeks front pay; consideration of mitigation of damages for quitting job for personal reasons and whether plaintiff’s decision to change career fields would make an award of front pay equivalent to a subsidy of her decision to change careers; determination of "reasonable fee"; considering reductions for duplicative efforts and time not reasonably compensable, partial success) 05/21/2003Mark W. Bennett
Tinius v. Carroll County Sheriff Department, et al. (Civil rights; motion to dismiss; assessment of supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a); analysis of defendants’ claim of Eleventh Amendment immunity.)04/07/2003Mark W. Bennett
Carter v. Woodbury County Jail, et al (Summary judgment motion granted because plaintiff failed to resist. Brief discussion of PLRA requirement for exhaustion of administrative remedies.)03/18/2003Paul A. Zoss
Baker v. John Morrell & Co. (After jury in Title VII sex discrimination case returned 1.52 million dollar verdict in favor of plaintiff, defendant moved for judgment as a matter of law or, in alternative, new trial. Defendant also moved to amend judgment, seeking remittal of the emotional damages and punitive damages. Defendant argued there was insufficient evidence to support jury’s verdict and argued that several evidentiary rulings warranted a new trial. The court overruled these arguments and denied the defendant’s motion. Plaintiff moved under Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(b) to amend complaint to add parallel state-law claims under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. Court found plaintiff did not intend to try state law claims and, therefore, that amendment was not permitted under Rule 15(b). Because court denied motion to amend, plaintiff could not allocate portion of damages to state-law claim and was, therefore, bound by Title VII $300,000 statutory damages cap. Court found that evidence supported award of $300,000 in emotional distress damages. Because of damages cap, court did not reach issue of whether punitive damages were excessive, although noting that they were supported by the evidence. Court remitted emotional damages award to $300,000, exclusive of backpay and post-judgment interest, as provided by federal law.)03/17/2003Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Angela Johnson (death-penalty prosecution pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 848(e)(1)(A); ruling on defendant’s motion to declare death-penalty provisions of 21 U.S.C. § 848 unconstitutional)01/07/2003Mark W. Bennett
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