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Gerard v. City of North Liberty

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 16, 2017

ANISSA GERARD, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CITY OF NORTH LIBERTY, IOWA and MITCHELL SEYMOUR, individually and as Police Officer for City of North Liberty, Defendants-Appellees.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Lars G. Anderson, Judge.

         Anissa Gerard appeals following a jury verdict in favor of the City of North Liberty and North Liberty Police Officer Mitchell Seymour on a negligence claim.

          David A. O'Brien of David O'Brien Law, Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

          Bradley J. Kaspar and Terry J. Abernathy of Pickens, Barnes & Abernathy Law Firm, Cedar Rapids, for appellees.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge.

         North Liberty police arrested Anissa Gerard after she acted belligerently. When officers were moving her within the police station, she missed a step and fell. Gerard sued the City of North Liberty and Officer Mitchell Seymour for negligence in failing to warn her of the step and in failing to protect her from falling down the step. A jury found they were not at fault.

         On appeal, Gerard (1) challenges the district court's failure to give the jury her proposed instruction on a special duty of care owed by the defendants and (2) contends the jury verdict was not supported by substantial evidence.

         I. Jury Instruction

         Gerard asked the court to give the jury the following definition of negligence:

"Negligence" means failure to use ordinary care. Ordinary care is the care which a reasonably careful person would use under similar circumstances. "Negligence" is doing something a reasonably careful person would not do under similar circumstances, or failing to do something a reasonably careful person would do under similar circumstances.
In this case the defendants' duty to the plaintiff went beyond "ordinary care." As the result of taking the plaintiff into custody and handcuffing her hands and arms behind her back plaintiff lost her normal ability of self-protection. Therefore, the defendants owed a special duty to aid and protect plaintiff from injury.

(Emphasis added.) The district court elected to give the un-italicized portion, which is identical to the Iowa State Bar Association's Jury Instruction 700.2. SeeHaskenhoff v. Homeland Energy Sols., LLC, 897 N.W.2d ...


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