DENIS MARCHAND and CHRISTINE E.T. MARCHAND, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
GOLDEN RULE PLUMBING HEATING & COOLING, INC., K&E DISTRIBUTING, INC., VAN'S HEATING & COOLING, L.L.C., and BOSCH THERMOTECHNOLOGY CORP., Defendants-Appellees.
from the Iowa District Court for Madison County, Paul R.
appeal the district court's summary judgment ruling in
favor of three of the four defendants on claims for damages
associated with a malfunctioning geothermal heating and
Timothy J. Van Vliet of Wetsch Abbott Osborn Van Vliet
P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellants.
M. Zager of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, L.L.P., Kansas City,
MO, and Jason C. Palmer of Bradshaw, Fowler, Proctor &
Fairgrave, P.C., Des Moines, for appellee Bosch
A. Happe, Kelsey K. Crosse, and Lucas B. Draisey of Davis,
Brown, Koehn, Shors & Roberts, P.C., Des Moines, for
appellee Golden Rule Plumbing Heating & Cooling, Inc.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.
VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.
after building a home, the owners sued various entities for
damages associated with a malfunctioning geothermal heating
and cooling system. The district court granted summary
judgment to three of the four defendants. On appeal, the
homeowners argue the statute of limitations did not preclude
their action. They also assert that genuine issues of
material fact foreclosed summary judgment.
Background Facts and Proceedings
and Christine Marchand built a home with a geothermal heating
and cooling system. The home was completed in 2005. In 2015,
the Marchands sued K&E Distributing, Inc., Golden Rule
Plumbing Heating & Cooling, Inc., Bosch Thermotechnology
Corp., and Van's Heating and Cooling, L.L.C. alleging (1)
"[t]he heating and cooling system did not work properly
[al]most immediately upon completion of the home"; (2)
"the entire geothermal system failed"; (3) in 2009,
Bosch provided them "with a new unit" but
"that unit . . . also . . . failed"; and (4) the
system continued to "not work properly, . . . causing
substantial discomfort and stress to the . . . entire
family." They sought "just compensation"
against all the defendants for (I) manufacturing defect, (II)
design defect, (III) breach of express warranty, (IV) breach
of implied warranty, and (V) negligence.
Heating and Cooling participated only to the extent of filing
an answer. The remaining three defendants filed motions for
summary judgment. Meanwhile, the Marchands sought leave to
amend their petition to add a breach-of-contract claim.
Golden Rule moved to dismiss this claim on statute of
limitations grounds. Bosch joined in Golden Rule's motion
and filed a motion for specific statement, in which Golden
Rule joined. K&E filed an affidavit addressing the
contract claim and other issues.
an unreported hearing on pending motions, the district court
granted all three defendants summary judgment on all the
Marchands' claims. The court did not address the claims
against Van's Heating and Cooling or a counterclaim filed
by Golden Rule. The Marchands appealed.
Summary Judgment Ruling
well-established summary-judgment standard is as follows:
Summary judgment is appropriate only when the moving party
has demonstrated there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law. In determining whether a grant of summary judgment
was appropriate, [the reviewing court] examine[s] the record
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, drawing
all legitimate inferences that may be drawn from the evidence
in his or her favor.
Homan v. Branstad, 887 N.W.2d 153, 163-64 (Iowa
2016). At the outset, the Marchands list several facts they
contend are disputed. These facts appear to be immaterial.
Id. at 164 ("A fact is material when its
determination might affect the outcome of a suit."). To
the extent any of them could be tethered to a legal issue, we
will address them in that context.
Golden Rule and K&E
Statute of Limitations - Manufacturing Defect, Design Defect,
Implied Warranty, Negligence
Code section 614.1(4) (2015) sets forth a limitations period
of five years for actions founded on "unwritten
contracts, " "injuries to property, " fraud,
and "all other actions not otherwise provided for."
Iowa Code section 614.1(2A)(a) sets forth a statute of repose
of fifteen years for claims
founded on . . . injuries to the person or property brought
against the manufacturer, assembler, designer, supplier of
specifications, seller, lessor, or distributor of a product
based upon an alleged defect in the design, inspection,
testing, manufacturing, formulation, marketing, packaging,
warning, labeling of the product, or any other alleged defect
or failure of whatever nature or kind, based on the theories
of strict liability in tort, negligence, or breach of an
See Albrecht v. General Motors Corp., 648 N.W.2d 87,
92 (Iowa 2002) ("Unlike a statute of limitations, the
period established in section 614.1(2A)(a) does not run from
the accrual of the plaintiffs claim; rather, it runs from the
date the product was first purchased or installed for
use."); see also Estate of Ryan v. Heritage Trails
Assocs., Inc., 745 N.W.2d 724, 729 (Iowa 2008) ("In
a products liability action brought in Iowa, the statute of
repose begins to run 'after the product was first
purchased, leased, bailed, or installed for use or
consumption unless expressly warranted for a longer period of
time by the manufacturer, assembler, designer, supplier of
specifications, seller, lessor, or distributor of the
product.'" (quoting Iowa Code § 614.1(2A)(a))).
Marchands argued for application of the fifteen-year statute
of repose, but the district court applied the five-year
limitations period to the Marchands' claims against
Golden Rule and K&E for manufacturing defect, design
defect, implied warranty, and negligence. The court concluded
these claims were time-barred. Contrary to the Marchands'
assertion, the court did not rely on this defense with
respect to their express-warranty claim against Golden Rule
and K&E or any of their claims against
Five-Year Limitations Period
Marchands argue they "generated a genuine issue of
material fact on the discovery of the injury and its cause
which would determine when the statute of limitations period
began and [they] should have the opportunity to present such
evidence to a jury of their peers." The discovery
rule, when applicable, provides that a cause of action does
not accrue until the plaintiff "has in fact
discovered" an injury or "by the exercise of
reasonable diligence should have discovered" the injury.
Franzen v. Deere & Co., 334 N.W.2d 730,
732 (Iowa 1983) (citation omitted) (applying discovery rule
to a products liability case involving allegation of
defective manufacture and design); see also Speight
v. Walters Dev. Co., 744 N.W.2d 108, 116 (Iowa
2008) (applying the discovery rule to case arising from
implied warranties); Brown v. Ellison, 304
N.W.2d 197, ...