from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, J. Hobart
Darbyshire (ruling on defendant Montgomery's motion for
summary judgment), Marlita A. Greve (ruling on defendant
Schrader's motion for summary judgment), Thomas G. Reidel
appeals the district court order granting defendants'
motions for summary judgment. AFFIRMED.
C. Riley of Tom Riley Law Firm, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for
Elliott R. McDonald III and Ryan F. Gerdes of McDonald,
Woodward & Carlson, P.C., Davenport, for appellee Pat
I. Mitchell and Aaron W. Lindebak of Grefe & Sidney,
P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellee Christy Schrader.
L. Roby and Nicholas J. Kilburg of Elderkin & Pirnie,
P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellee Brad Allen.
appeal, a plaintiff asks our court to decide if the district
court properly granted summary judgment and partial summary
judgment on his defamation claim based on the running of the
statute of limitations. Additionally, we must determine if
the court properly granted summary judgment on the
plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim on the ground the
defendants merely furnished information to law enforcement
and thus, did not instigate his criminal prosecution. Due to
an answer to a special interrogatory by the jury, we do not
reach the statute of limitations arguments made on the
defamation claim. On the malicious prosecution claim, we
affirm the decision of the district court. Accordingly, we
affirm the judgment of the district court.
Linn and Mark Shuck are spouses who resided in a condominium
complex called Partridge Villa Building X (Building X) in
Bettendorf, Scott County, Iowa. From 2004 to 2008, Shuck
served as the president of the homeowners' association of
Building X. Patrick Montgomery and Christy Schrader also
resided in Building X. In 2012, Montgomery and Schrader
reviewed financial records of Building X and prepared a
written report of alleged wrongdoings by Linn and Shuck while
he was president.
occasions in January 2012, Montgomery spoke to an assistant
county attorney with the Scott County attorney's office.
In the initial meeting, after discussing the wrongdoings Linn
and Shuck had allegedly perpetrated, Montgomery learned from
the assistant county attorney that the statute of limitations
barred all of the allegations. Montgomery then investigated
further and, presumably for the first time, came across an
alleged unauthorized water line scheme. This scheme concerned
alleged unauthorized payments from the funds of the
homeowners' association toward a water meter with a water
line that serviced an outdoor spigot attached to the wall of
Linn and Shuck's unit.
December 17, 2012, Montgomery delivered a binder summarizing
the alleged wrongdoings by Linn and Shuck, including the
water line scheme, to Officer Dennis Tripp with the
Bettendorf Police Department. On March 4, 2013, Detective
Brad Levetzow with the Bettendorf Police Department met with
Montgomery to discuss the matters addressed in the binder. On
March 12, Detective Levetzow interviewed Schrader about the
alleged unauthorized charges and Shuck's alleged
involvement. Two days later, Detective Levetzow initiated
criminal charges by filing a criminal complaint and
affidavit. The criminal complaint and affidavit alleged Shuck
had committed theft by misappropriating homeowners'
association funds to pay water bills from June 24, 1997, to
March 16, 2010.
April 31, 2013, an assistant county attorney filed a trial
information formally charging Shuck with second-degree theft.
On July 3, the court dismissed the information against Shuck
because the theft charge fell outside the applicable statute
March 10, 2015, Linn and Shuck filed a petition in Scott
County District Court, claiming defamation and malicious
prosecution. Linn also alleged a loss of consortium
claim. Montgomery and Schrader filed separate
motions for summary judgment.
Specifically, Montgomery and Schrader argued they were
entitled to summary judgment on the defamation claim as a
whole and partial summary judgment on Shuck's defamation
claim, respectively, because statements uttered before March
10, 2013, fell outside the two-year statute of
limitations. Schrader further argued she was entitled
to summary judgment with respect to Linn's defamation
claim because the summary judgment record lacked any
indication that Schrader had defamed Linn. Unlike Schrader,
Montgomery also sought summary judgment on Linn's loss of
consortium claim. As for the malicious prosecution claim,
Montgomery and Schrader asserted the ultimate decision
whether to proceed with a criminal action rested with the
county attorney's office. Thus, they argued, the
malicious prosecution claim must fail.
resisting the motions for summary judgment, Linn and Shuck
contended the discovery rule should apply to defamatory
statements that are secretive or inherently undiscoverable,
such as statements made to law enforcement, which are not
public until the filing of the criminal complaint and minutes
of testimony. Linn and Shuck alternatively argued the
original defamer is liable for damages resulting from
reasonably foreseeable republication or repetition of the
respect to their malicious prosecution claim, Linn and Shuck
argued Montgomery and Schrader knowingly made false
assertions of wrongdoing because they knew about the alleged
water line scheme but did not raise the issue in
Montgomery's first meeting with the assistant county
attorney. Thus, according to Linn and Shuck, Montgomery and
Schrader did not believe the water line constituted criminal
court granted summary judgment in favor of Montgomery on Linn
and Shuck's defamation and malicious prosecution claims
but denied summary judgment as to Linn's loss of
consortium claim. As to Schrader, the court granted partial
summary judgment on Shuck's defamation claim as to any
statements made before March 10, 2013, summary judgment on
Linn's defamation claim, and summary judgment on Linn and
Shuck's malicious prosecution claim.
defamation claim against Schrader for statements made on or
after March 10, 2013, and Linn's claim for her loss of
consortium with her husband Shuck, based on the defamatory
remarks made by Montgomery and Schrader, proceeded to a jury
trial. In regards to Linn's loss of consortium claim, the
court allowed the jury to consider all of the alleged
defamatory remarks made by Montgomery and Schrader, including
those made before March 10, 2013.
jury returned a verdict in favor of Montgomery and Schrader.
Shuck and Linn filed a notice of appeal. However, only Shuck
raises any issues in this appeal. Therefore, we will not
consider any claims of Linn. We will lay out additional facts