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City of Ames D/B/A v. Daniel J. Gonnerman and Lisa Gonnerman

February 27, 2013

CITY OF AMES D/B/A MARY GREELEY MEDICAL CENTER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
DANIEL J. GONNERMAN AND LISA GONNERMAN, RESPONDENTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Kurt Wilke, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bower, J.

Daniel and Lisa Gonnerman appeal from the orders granting the city's motion for summary judgment on their claims for breach of contract and violation of the federal and state fair debt collection practices acts. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

Daniel and Lisa Gonnerman appeal from the orders granting the city's motion for summary judgment on their claims for breach of contract and violation of the federal and state fair debt collection practices acts. They contend their due process rights were violated because they were not allowed to participate in the hearing on the city's motion for summary judgment. They also contend the district court erred in entering summary judgment in favor of the city.

We conclude the Gonnermans were given notice and an opportunity to be heard on the summary judgment matter. We also conclude that the city is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the Gonnermans' claims. Because summary judgment was properly granted, we affirm.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

In 2006 and 2007, Daniel Gonnerman rented and purchased medical equipment and supplies from Homeward Home Medical Equipment (HHME), a division of Mary Greeley Medical Center.*fn1 The invoices signed by Gonnerman provide that HHME would file an insurance form for payment with Gonnerman's insurance provider, but that if the insurance did not compensate HHME "with the entire fee or [did] not reimburse them directly or without delay," Gonnerman would pay the unpaid charges promptly.

On July 29, 2010, the city demanded $1959.09 from Gonnerman and his wife, Lisa,*fn2 for the medical equipment and supplies provided. The Gonnermans answered and counterclaimed, alleging breach of contract and a violation of the federal fair debt collection practices act (FDCPA). On September 17, 2010, Gonnermans' insurance paid $1511.91, leaving a debt of $448.18. On July 15, 2011, the Gonnermans confessed judgment in the amount of $448.18.

The city, on August 10, 2011, filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss the Gonnermans' counterclaims. The court granted summary judgment on November 15, 2011. In the meantime, the Gonnermans filed a motion for leave to amend their petition to include a claim under the Iowa FDCPA. The district court granted leave to amend their petition the same day it entered its order granting summary judgment under the federal act.

The city filed a second motion for summary judgment on February 14, 2012, seeking to dismiss the Gonnermans' remaining claims. On February 16, 2012, the district court set a hearing for February 24, 2012. When neither party appeared, the district court surmised that there had been a problem with the notice that was electronically filed. That hearing was rescheduled for March 2, 2012. That order was also filed electronically. In addition, the district court sent copies of the new order to both counsel by email. The Gonnermans filed a written resistance to the summary judgment motion on February 29, 2012, but did not appear at the summary judgment hearing.

On March 2, 2012, the district court entered summary judgment in favor of the city. The court found the undisputed facts showed the city did not violate the Iowa FDCPA by sending correspondence to the Gonnermans when they were represented by counsel. The court noted that Daniel Gonnerman represented both defendants, and the correspondence was addressed to Daniel Gonnerman at his home address, rather than at his business address. The court found that if there was any violation of the Iowa FDCPA, it was unintentional.

The Gonnermans filed a motion for rehearing on March 8, 2012, arguing they were not given notice and the opportunity to be heard, in violation of their due process rights. This motion was denied.

On March 19, 2012, the Gonnermans filed a motion to enlarge the findings of the summary judgment order. In its March 29, 2012 order, the district court clarified that the first ruling on summary judgment was intended to dismiss all of the Gonnermans' claims against the city, save for the Iowa FDCPA claim. The court stated:

The Gonnermans conceded at the hearing on the first motion for summary judgment that these claims should be dismissed as they would not be pursued. Contrary to the Gonnermans' allegation in paragraph seven of their motion, the Court never overruled the plaintiff's motion as to these claims. The Court's ruling on the first motion for summary judgment should be clarified. These claims should be ...


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