RESIDENTS OF ROYAL VIEW MANOR by and through JEANETTE MCDOWELL, et. al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,
THE DES MOINES MUNICIPAL HOUSING AGENCY d/b/a ROYAL VIEW MANOR, Defendant-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Jeffrey D.
Moines Municipal Housing Agency appeals the district court
order certifying a class action.
G. Hoch, Kevin J. Driscoll and Kellen B. Bubach of Finley Law
Firm, P.C., Des Moines, and Gregory R. Brown and Joseph G.
Gamble of Duncan, Green, Brown & Langeness, P.C., Des
Moines, for appellant.
P. Wandro and Kara M. Simons of Wandro & Associates,
P.C., Des Moines, and Jeffrey M. Lipman of Lipman Law Firm,
P.C., Clive, for appellees.
by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.
tenants of Royal View Manor filed a lawsuit on their own
behalf and on behalf of those persons similarly situated
alleging the Des Moines Municipal Housing Agency (DMMHA)
breached warranties of habitability by failing to properly
remedy a bed bug infestation in the apartment building. The
DMMHA alleges the district court erred in certifying the
class action because the plaintiffs failed to prove joinder
of all class members is impractical and individual issues
predominate over class questions. Because the district court
properly exercised its discretion in certifying the class
action, we affirm.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
View Manor is an eight-story, two-hundred-unit, apartment
building in Des Moines. It is owned and operated by the
DMHAA, which provides housing for low- and moderate-income
individuals. The DMMHA has an income limit for those who
reside in its buildings and rents are income-based.
2010, the DMMHA learned of a bed bug infestation at Royal
View Manor. It retained a pest-control firm to treat the
infestation in individual apartment units based on resident
complaints. In June 2010, the DMMHA changed to a preventative
program, eventually retaining Preferred Pest Control to
investigate each apartment quarterly and treat any
infestation detected through a combination of heat and
chemical treatments. Preferred Pest Control made other
recommendations for controlling the spread of bed bugs
through the building, and the DMMHA implemented some of those
district court summarized the evidence regarding the extent
of the bed bug infestation at Royal View Manor:
When Preferred [Pest Control] completed its first full
inspection at Royal View [Manor] in 2010, it detected bed
bugs in forty-four apartments, which is twenty-two percent of
the apartments. The [DMMHA] and Preferred [Pest Control] set
a goal of getting to ten percent. The documents show some
limited success for different periods of time. For example,
Preferred [Pest Control]'s records show it detected bed
bugs in thirteen apartments during the spring quarter of
2013. However, Royal View [Manor] has never met its goal of
ten percent in a lasting sense. For example, bed bugs were
detected in twenty-seven apartments in 2011, thirty-one
apartments in the fall of 2012, forty-four apartments in the
winter of 2013, and thirty-six apartments in the summer of
2014. In June of 2015, bed bugs were detected in seventy-two
out of 183 apartments. . . .
The bed bug detections were not confined to the same
apartments as prior detections. For example, from September
of 2010 to April of 2015, bed bugs were detected in apartment
214 on five different occasions. However, bed bugs were not
detected in some apartments (such as 202 and 201) for the
first time until 2014 and 2015. As a result, there has been a
cumulative effect resulting in a large majority of the
apartments at Royal View [Manor] having been detected to have
bed bugs on at least one occasion over the period from 2010
October 2014, fifty-five current and former residents of
Royal View Manor filed a petition against the DMMHA alleging
it had breached express, implied, and statutory warranties of
habitability. The plaintiffs sought class certification for
"[a]ll tenants of Royal View Manor who were subject to
infestation of bed bugs from at least the date of 2007 to
present, " estimating the class could include between
300 and 600 residents. They also ...