Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Rustin T. Davenport, Judge.
Johnnie Waslick sought damages under alternative fraud theories for entry of a divorce decree, and has appealed from a district court's grant of a motion for directed verdict.
Timothy L. Lapointe of The Law Offices of Timothy L. Lapointe, P.C., Mason City, for appellant.
F. David Eastman of Eastman Law Office, Clear Lake, for appellee.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Danilson and Mullins, JJ.
Johnnie Waslick appeals from a district court's grant of a motion for directed verdict at the conclusion of his evidence seeking damages for entry of a divorce decree. He was alleging alternative theories of fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent nondisclosure, and willful wanton conduct justifying punitive damages. We affirm.
I. Background and Facts
In 2006, Gale Simpson filed for divorce from Johnnie Waslick, and a default decree was entered in 2007 after Waslick failed to answer or appear at the default hearing. Waslick was served the original notice and petition but claims to have received no notice of the default hearing.
In 2010, Waslick filed a small claims action seeking to obtain some personal property. The court found the divorce decree was res judicata in the small claims action and Waslick had no ownership interest in the property requested.
In 2011, Waslick filed a petition at law in district court claiming Simpson was liable to him in monetary damages arising out of fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent nondisclosure, and willful wanton conduct justifying punitive damages. He claimed she misled him with regard to the entry of the default divorce decree. He also claims that she made certain misrepresentations about her intent to stay married to him. Simpson filed a motion to dismiss or alternatively a motion for summary judgment. The district court denied the motion, and the case proceeded to trial. The evidence Waslick presented at trial, including his own testimony, however, established that within a few weeks of the entry of the dissolution decree he was aware the decree had been filed and the divorce had been finalized. At the close of the plaintiff's evidence, the court granted Simpson's motion for a directed verdict. The court found Waslick did not carry the burden to prove there was justifiable reliance on any representations made by Simpson. On appeal, Waslick maintains it was error for the court to grant the directed verdict motion, claiming that Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure 1.1012 and 1.1013 do not apply and that common law fraud and its five-year statute of limitations should allow him to proceed to trial.
II. Standard of Review
We review an appeal of an order under rule 1.1012 at law. In re Adoption of B.J.H., 564 N.W.2d 387, 391 (Iowa 1997) (applying rule 252, the prior version of rule 1.1012). "We review a district court's ruling on a motion for directed verdict for correction of errors at law." Pavone v. Kirke, 801 N.W.2d 477, 486-87 (Iowa 2011). We must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and determine if there is substantial evidence to support each ...