from the Iowa District Court for Keokuk County, Joel D.
appeal from the district court judgment permanently enjoining
them from taking certain action with respect to farm
P. Kraushaar of Elwood, Elwood & Buchanan, Williamsburg,
C. Wagner of John C. Wagner Law Offices, PC, Amana, for
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., McDonald, J., and Scott,
case arises out of an intra-family dispute concerning
farmland. The issue on appeal is the propriety of a permanent
injunction regulating John and Beth Gent's use of leased
family farmland. Our review is de novo. See Skow v.
Goforth, 618 N.W.2d 275, 277 (Iowa 2000). Deference is
given to the district court's factual findings,
particularly relating to witness credibility. See Sear v.
Clayton Cty. Zoning Bd. of Adjustment, 590 N.W.2d 512,
515 (Iowa 1999).
of background, John and Beth Gent filed a petition for
declaratory judgment against Thomas and Mary Gent, John's
brother and sister-in-law. John sought a declaration that a
twenty-year farm lease he entered into with his parents,
Dennis and Shirley Gent, was valid. The validity of the lease
was put in question after Thomas exercised an option to
purchase the land and sent notice to John of his intention to
terminate the farm lease as successor to Dennis and Shirley.
Thomas filed counterclaims against John, contending
John's farm lease was invalid and John was committing
waste with respect to the farmland. On John's motion for
summary judgment, the district court found the farm lease was
valid and enjoined Thomas from disturbing John's quiet
enjoyment and possession of the leased property.
counterclaim for waste later came on for trial. At trial,
Thomas testified John was committing waste in several
respects. He testified John damaged the land by removing
terracing. He testified John had not cleared downed trees.
John had removed a building without permission. He testified
John made a threat to treat the land with a chemical that
would prevent vegetation growth for up to ten years. John
denied most of Thomas's claims. Those things he did not
deny-for example, removing terracing-were done at
Dennis's direction for the purpose of improving the
productivity of the land. After hearing the evidence, the
district court granted Thomas's request for permanent
injunctive relief. In its ruling, the district court made no
findings and largely adopted Thomas's proposed order.
John seeks relief from this order.
general rule, permanent injunctive relief is an extraordinary
remedy and should be granted "with caution and only when
clearly required." Hockenberg Equip. Co. v.
Hockenberg's Equip. & Supply Co. of Des Moines,
Inc., 510 N.W.2d 153, 158 (Iowa 1993). The party seeking
permanent injunctive relief must prove "(1) an invasion
or threatened invasion of a right, (2) substantial injury or
damages will result unless an injunction is granted, and (3)
no adequate legal remedy is available." Skow,
618 N.W.2d at 278. "When considering the appropriateness
of an injunction 'the court should carefully weigh the
relative hardship which would be suffered by the enjoined
party upon awarding injunctive relief.'"
Sear, 590 N.W.2d at 515 (quoting Matlock v.
Weets, 531 N.W.2d 118, 122 (Iowa 1995)). As the party
seeking permanent injunctive relief, Thomas had the burden of
proof. See Meyers v. Caple, 258 N.W.2d 301, 305
failed to prove he would suffer substantial injury or damages
in the absence of permanent injunctive relief. "In order
to demonstrate injury or damages, [the party seeking relief]
must be able to show that there is a real and immediate
threat the injury will either continue or be repeated unless
the requested terms are included in the permanent
injunction." In re Langholz, 887 N.W.2d 770,
781 (Iowa 2016) (citation omitted). Here, Thomas's claims
of waste are not credible. John farms full time. He farms
this land and other farmland. He is experienced and has a
history of good husbandry practices. His lease agreement
obligates him to rent the farmland until 2035. He had no and
has no economic incentive to destroy the very ground he
farms. In contrast, Thomas does not farm. He did not have
personal knowledge of the present condition of the farm. He
was unaware his father approved much of what John had done to
the farm. In short, there is simply no credible evidence John
committed waste, Thomas suffered injury, or Thomas would
suffer injury in the future.
also failed to establish he lacks an adequate legal remedy to
redress his claimed injury. On the contrary, Thomas has
multiple legal remedies to redress any injury to the
property. Thomas could seek monetary relief for any violation
of the lease agreement, which includes a good husbandry
provision. In addition, Iowa Code chapter 658 provides a
cause of action for waste, including the availability of
treble damages resulting from such waste. See Iowa
Code § 658.1 A (2018). The availability of other relief
makes permanent injunctive relief inappropriate. See
Lewis Invs., Inc. v. City of Iowa City, 703 N.W.2d 180,
185 (Iowa 2005); Sergeant Bluff-Luton Sch. Dist v. City
of Sioux City, 562 N.W.2d 154, 156 (Iowa 1997) (stating
it is a "well-established rule that an action for an
injunction will not lie where the petitioner has an adequate
remedy at law").
district court erred in granting Thomas's cross-petition
for permanent injunctive relief. Thomas failed to prove he
would suffer a substantial injury in the absence of
injunctive relief, and there are adequate remedies at law to