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Duncan v. Ford Motor Credit, Repossessors, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 20, 2018

SHANNON DUNCAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
FORD MOTOR CREDIT, REPOSSESSORS, INC. and BRUCE SHORES, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Winneshiek County, Margaret L. Lingreen, Judge.

         Plaintiff appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment to the defendants based on the statute of limitations.

          Dennis G. Larson of Larson Law Office and Erik W. Fern of Putnam, Fern & Thompson Law Office, P.L.L.C., Decorah, for appellant.

          Angela E. Dralle of Dorsey & Whitney, L.L.P., Des Moines, for appellee Ford Motor Credit Company.

          Jace T. Bisgard and Dana L. Oxley of Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellees Repossessors, Inc. and Bruce Shores.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., Doyle, J., and Scott, S.J. [*]

          SCOTT, SENIOR JUDGE.

         Shannon Duncan appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment to the defendants based on the statute of limitations. We affirm the district court's decision finding Duncan's claim of conversion is barred by the five-year statute of limitations in Iowa Code section 614.1(4) (2015). On Duncan's claim of civil extortion, the court erred by applying the two-year statute of limitations in section 614.1(2). Duncan's claim of civil extortion is timely under the five-year statute of limitations in section 614.1(4), and the district court improperly granted summary judgment on this issue. We remand to the district court for further proceedings on the issue of civil extortion.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         On March 5, 2008, Duncan purchased a 2008 Ford Edge from Decorah Auto Center, Inc., with financing through Ford Motor Credit (FMC). She made payments from April 19, 2008, until August 19, 2010. Duncan received notice she owed $1871.94, due by November 19, 2010. Duncan stated she paid this amount in a timely fashion, but on November 19, 2010, Bruce Shores of Repossessors, Inc. took possession of the vehicle.

         On November 27, 2010, Duncan received notice FMC intended to sell the Ford Edge. Duncan told FMC the vehicle had been wrongfully repossessed and demanded the return of the vehicle. Duncan paid the remainder of the loan, $22, 196.28, on March 11, 2011. FMC, Repossessors, and Shores did not return the vehicle to Duncan. She stated they told her they would not return the vehicle to her unless she signed a release of liability for the wrongful taking.

          Duncan was able to retrieve the vehicle on June 17, 2011, without signing a release. She found FMC, Repossessors, or Shores had retained her personal property from the vehicle. Also, the Ford Edge had been damaged and Duncan incurred expenses in repairing it.

         Duncan filed a petition on December 16, 2015, against FMC, Repossessors, and Shores, raising claims of conversion and civil extortion. FMC filed a partial motion for summary judgment, claiming the conversion claim was barred by the five-year statute of limitations found in section 614.1(4). Duncan resisted the motion. The district court found the conversion occurred on November 19, 2010, when the vehicle was taken from Duncan. The court concluded Duncan's claim of conversion was barred under the statute of limitations and granted FMC's partial motion for summary judgment. The court also denied Duncan's motion pursuant to Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.904(2). The court subsequently granted a request by Repossessors and Shores for partial summary judgment on this issue as well.

         FMC filed a second partial motion for summary judgment, claiming Duncan's civil extortion claim was barred by the two-year statute of limitations set by section 614.1(2). Repossessors and Shores joined in the motion. Duncan resisted the partial motion for summary judgment. The district court found Duncan's action arose in June 2011, when she recovered her vehicle, and her petition, filed in December 2015, was outside the two-year statute of limitations in section 614.1(2). The court granted the defendants' motion for ...


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