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Van Stelton v. Van Stelton

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division

January 15, 2014

VIRGIL VAN STELTON, CAROL VAN STELTON, AND ALVIN VAN STELTON, Plaintiffs,
v.
JERRY VAN STELTON, DONNA VAN STELTON, EUGENE VAN STELTON, GARY CHRISTIANS, DOUG WEBER, SCOTT GRIES, NATE KRIKKE, ROBERT E. HANSEN, DANIEL DEKOTER, OSCEOLA COUNTY, IOWA, AND DEKOTER, THOLE AND DAWSON, P.L.C., Defendants

Page 987

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

For Virgil Van Stelton, Carol Van Stelton, Alvin Van Stelton, Plaintiffs: Thomas P Frerichs, LEAD ATTORNEY, Frerichs Law Office PC, Waterloo, IA; Wendy Alison Nora, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Access Legal Services, Minneapolis, MN.

For Jerry Van Stelton, Eugene Van Stelton, Donna Van Stelton, Defendants: Ronald J Shea, Smith, Grigg, Shea & Klinker, PC, Primghar, IA; Scot L Bauermeister, Fitzgibbons Bros Law Office, Estherville, IA.

For Gary Christians, Defendant: Andrea Michelle Smook, LEAD ATTORNEY, Cornwall, Avery, Bjornstad & Scott, Spencer, IA; Ronald J Shea, Smith, Grigg, Shea & Klinker, PC, Primghar, IA; Stephen F Avery, Cornwall Avery Bjornstad Scott, Spencer, IA.

For Doug Weber, Osceola County, Iowa, Robert E Hansen, Nate Krikke, Scott Gries, Defendants: Deena Ann Townley, KlassLaw Firm, L.L.P., Sioux City, IA; Douglas L Phillips, Klass Law Firm, L.L.P., Mayfair Center, Upper Level, Sioux City, IA.

For Daniel Dekoter, Defendant: James W Redmond, Heidman Law Firm, L.L.P., Sioux City, IA; Peter J Leo, Heidman Law Firm, Sioux City, IA.

For Dekoter, Thole and Dawson, PLC, Defendant: Peter J Leo, LEAD ATTORNEY, Heidman Law Firm, Sioux City, IA; James W Redmond, Heidman Law Firm, L.L.P., Sioux City, IA.

OPINION

MARK W. BENNETT, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

Page 988

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO DISMISS COUNTERCLAIM

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

A. Procedural Background

B. Allegations In The Counterclaim

II. LEGAL ANALYSIS

A. Standards For A Motion To Dismiss

B. Sufficiency Of Abuse Of Process Allegations

1. Requirements for abuse of process claim

2. Sufficiency of the County defendants' pleadings

III. CONCLUSION

Plaintiffs brought a panoply of claims against defendants, including claims for 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, malicious prosecution, slander and libel, and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage. I granted portions of defendants' motions to dismiss for failing to adequately state viable claims under Federal or Iowa law. Following my order, defendants filed their answers to the Third Amended Complaint and some defendants

Page 989

filed a counterclaim for abuse of process against plaintiffs. Plaintiffs have now moved to dismiss that counterclaim. Plaintiffs' motion to dismiss requires me to consider whether the counterclaim adequately states a viable abuse of process claim under Iowa law.

I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

A. Procedural Background

On May 11, 2011, plaintiffs filed their initial pro se Complaint. The Complaint contained the following claims: (1) civil rights violation claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by all plaintiffs; (2) claims by Virgil Van Stelton for false arrest, malicious prosecution, and loss of consortium; (3) claims by Virgil Van Stelton and Alvin Van Stelton for intentional infliction of emotional distress, slander, and " interference with Right to Petition for Redress of Grievances."

On January 6, 2012, plaintiffs filed their Amended Complaint. The Amended Complaint added Carol Van Stelton's claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, loss of consortium, and slander. After plaintiffs retained counsel, plaintiffs sought and were granted leave to file a Second Amended Complaint on November 9, 2012. The Second Amended Complaint contained additional factual allegations and added the City of Sibley as a defendant. The Second Amended Complaint contained the following claims: (1) civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (" RICO" ), 18 U.S.C. § 1961, et seq. ; (3) pendent state law claims for false arrest, malicious prosecution, slander and libel, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, and declaratory judgment and injunctive relief.

Defendants Doug Weber, Scott Gries, Nate Krikke, Robert E. Hansen, and Osceola County's (collectively, " the County defendants" ) filed a motion to dismiss portions of the Second Amended Complaint. In response, plaintiffs sought and were granted leave to file their Third Amended Complaint. The Third Amended Complaint contained more factual detail and added a law firm as named defendants. Plaintiffs also added claims under Iowa's Ongoing Criminal Conduct statute (" OCC" ), see Iowa Code ch. 706A, to their RICO claims in Count 2. The County defendants then amended their motion to dismiss.

I granted the County defendants' motion to dismiss and, at the conclusion of my ruling, I provided the following summary of the outcome with regard to claims against the County defendants:

1. The County defendants' motion to dismiss is granted, and the following claims against the County ...

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