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Smith v. All Stor Fort Knox, LLC

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 15, 2018

ANTONIO SMITH, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
ALL STOR FORT KNOX, LLC, Defendant-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Sean W. McPartland, Judge.

         Antonio Smith appeals from the district court's order granting summary judgment.

          Larry J. Thorson of Ackley, Kopecky & Kingery, LLP, Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

          Brian L. Yung of Klass Law Firm, LLP, Sioux City, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Antonio Smith (Smith) appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment to All Stor Fort Knox, LLC (All Stor). We hold the district court properly found a contractual release from liability valid and that All Stor was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. We affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         All Stor is a storage unit facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. On December 3, 2011, Smith rented a storage unit from All Stor with his sister, signing a rental agreement form. On September 5, 2014, in the office at the All Stor facility, the chair Smith sat in broke, rolled out from under him, or in some other manner resulted in Smith falling to the ground. Smith claims injuries arising from the fall.

         On July 15, 2016, Smith brought suit against All Stor, claiming negligence for the condition of the chair and gross negligence under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.[1] All Stor filed a timely answer, then on December 12 filed a motion for leave to amend its answer to add the limitation of liability clause as an affirmative defense. Smith then filed an amended petition adding a count for spoliation of evidence in February 2017.

         On May 22, All Stor moved for summary judgment, claiming the contract prevented the recovery of damages even if All Stor or its agents were negligent. The court granted the motion without a hearing. Smith appeals.

         II. Contract Provision

         The rental contract for the storage unit included a limitation of liability provision as follows:

6. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. Tenant acknowledges and agrees that Lessor shall have no liability, waives all claims and forever releases Lessor and its owners, employees and agents from any and all claims, damages, liabilities, lawsuits, costs or expenses, including attorneys' fees, for any personal injury or other property loss arising from or related to the use of the Unit or the Facility, and from any and all other causes whatsoever, including but not limited to, burglary, fire, water, wind, rodents, acts of God, causes beyond ...

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