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Smith v. Smith

Court of Appeal of Iowa

August 21, 2013

ALLAN SMITH, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
DAVID J. SMITH; CHIEF FARMS, LLC; and DONALD SMITH; Defendants-Appellees.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Howard County, Margaret L. Lingreen, Judge.

Allan Smith appeals from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of David J. Smith; Chief Farms, LLC; and Donald Smith.

Thais Ann Folta and Andrew Strick of Elwood, O'Donohoe, Braun & White, L.L.P., Cresco, for appellant.

Marion L. Beatty of Miller, Pearson, Gloe, Burns, Weatty & Parrish, P.L.C., Decorah, for appellee Donald Smith.

Stephen F. Avery and Andrea M. Smook of Cornwall, Avery, Bjornstad & Scott, Spencer, for appellees David Smith and Chief Farms, L.L.C.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Potterfield and Tabor, JJ.

POTTERFIELD, J.

Allan Smith appeals from the district court's grant of a motion for summary judgment in favor of David J. Smith; Chief Farms, LLC; and Donald Smith. We affirm, finding the district court properly granted the motion for summary judgment.

I. Facts and proceedings.

On August 2, 2011, Clem and Judy Smith (mother and father of Allan, Donald, and David) entered a real estate contract with David for the purchase of two-thirds of their family farm for 1.8 million dollars. The other one-third interest was conveyed to David as a gift. Before the conveyance, Allan had farmed the land with his father under a crop-share arrangement for several years.

Allan filed suit against Donald; David; and Chief Farms, LLC (David's company) in March 2012. He claimed the contract between his father and brother was unconscionable, the brothers tortiously interfered with his business (his farm lease was terminated when his father sold the land to his brother), the brothers tortiously interfered with his inheritance, the brothers intentionally or negligently inflicted emotional distress, the contract constituted conversion of the land due to inadequate consideration, and various corporate alter ego allegations.[1]

Donald and David (personally and on behalf of the LLC) filed motions for summary judgment the following October. Depositions were taken of Clem, Judy, Allan, and Allan's wife Diane. Judy and Clem both testified to their competency and their satisfaction with the real estate agreement. A hearing was held on the motions for summary judgment, and the motions were granted in December 2012. The court found the following in its well-reasoned opinion:

1. Plaintiff Allan Smith and Defendants David Smith and Donald Smith are brothers. Their parents ...

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