MICHAEL C. RYAN AND RYAN DATA EXCHANGE, LTD., d/b/a RYDEX, LTD., Plaintiffs-Appellees,
BELIN MCCORMICK, P.C., Defendant-Appellant.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Glenn E. Pille
(summary judgment) and Donna L. Paulsen (trial), Judges.
firm appeals a declaratory judgment concerning the extent of
its attorney-client relationship with plaintiffs.
McCormick and Matthew C. McDermott of Belin McCormick, P.C.,
Des Moines, for appellant.
Kenneth R. Munro of Munro Law Office, P.C., Des Moines, for
by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, J J.
McCormick, P.C.,  a law firm, appeals a declaratory judgment
concerning the extent of its attorney-client relationship
with Michael Ryan and Ryan Data Exchange, Ltd., doing
business as Rydex, Ltd. We find the district court improperly
determined Rydex and Seneca Distribution, L.C. were involved
in a joint venture. We find there is no longer a justiciable
controversy concerning the nature, scope, and extent of the
attorney-client relationship between Belin and Rydex. We
vacate the decision of the district court.
Background Facts & Proceedings
Risewick and his company, Seneca Distribution, L.C. were
long-time clients of Belin. Beginning in 1999, Seneca began
investing in Rydex, which held patents concerning a wireless
fluid delivery control system. Belin performed legal work
pertaining to the relationship between Seneca and Rydex. The
relationship between Seneca and Rydex later led to litigation
between them and with other parties. This case involves just
one piece in the larger picture of litigation involving
Seneca and Rydex.
8, 2015, Rydex filed a declaratory judgment action against
Belin, asking for a determination of whether they had an
attorney-client relationship, and requesting Belin turn over
all documents regarding its legal representation of Rydex.
The petition states:
WHEREFORE, the Plaintiffs request that the Court enters an
Order declaring that Belin McCormick PC had an attorney
client relationship with Michael Ryan and Rydex and that
Michael Ryan and Rydex are immediately entitled to a full
copy of their file, including but not limited to, any and all
documents, emails, pleadings, correspondence, discovery,
billings, electronically stored data, and any other item of
any kind relating to the inventions and U.S. patents that
were the subject of the attorney client relationship.
admitted it had an attorney-client relationship with Rydex
where Rydex's interests aligned with those of Seneca, but
stated the relationship did not encompass the scope Rydex
claimed. Belin claimed it did not perform any legal services
for Rydex after May 2002. Nonetheless, Belin gave Rydex
copies of its work associated with the relationship between
Seneca and Rydex from January 2000 through January 2006.
filed a motion for partial summary judgment and Belin also
filed a motion for summary judgment. The district court
denied the motions, stating, "The scope, extent, and
nature of the attorney-client relationship must be
determined by the fact-finder and will ...