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Agan v. Krambeck

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 5, 2018

LINDA AGAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TAMMY KRAMBECK, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Odell G. McGhee II, District Associate Judge.

         A tenant appeals the denial of her motion to set aside the default judgment evicting her from the home she rented.

          Andrea Hiatt Buckley of Iowa Legal Aid, Sioux City, for appellant.

          Christopher R. Kemp of Kemp & Sease, Des Moines, for appellee.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Benjamin E. Bellus and Jessica Whitney, Assistant Attorneys General, for amicus curiae Iowa Attorney General.

          Rita Bettis of ACLU of Iowa Foundation, Des Moines, Clarissa Flege of Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Urbandale, and Sandra Shin-Young Park and Lenora M. Lapidus of ACLU Women's Rights Project, New York, New York, for amici curiae American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, American Civil Liberties Union, National Housing Law Project, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, National Network to End Domestic Violence, and Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.

          Heard by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Doyle, JJ.

          POTTERFIELD, JUDGE.

         Tammy Krambeck appeals from the default judgement entered by the small claims court evicting her from the home she rented from Linda Agan for more than three years. Tammy maintains the small claims court had jurisdiction to set aside the default judgment and she had good cause for the judgment to be set aside. Alternatively, she argues the district court should have set aside the judgment entered by the small claims court because the small claims court never had jurisdiction to enter the default in the first place, as the forcible entry and detainer notice was facially defective-it did not provide the required language about her right-to-cure the alleged clear and present danger-and in violation of her right to summon emergency assistance, found in Iowa Code section 562A.27B (2017).

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         On June 29, 2017, Agan sent her tenants, Tammy and Greg Krambeck, [1] a three-day notice to quit the residence. On it, Agan wrote "clear and present canger." She also included a handwritten narrative, which was dated the day before and stated:

Tammy screaming from inside the trailer that Greg has bruised her, he beat me, call the police. The police were contacted and she declined to show evidence of abuse. This occurrence is very frequent with Greg chasing Tammy outside. The neighbors/tenants are exposed to the domestic assault daily. Children reside in the mobile home park and should not be exposed to this exchange & physical violence.

         The same day, Agan sent by certified mail a second notice, titled "3 day termination notice to tenant," with Agan again adding a handwritten note, stating, "clear and present danger." It advised the Krambecks that Agan "inten[ded] to terminate [their] tenancy" on July 6.

         On July 14, Agan filed an original notice and petition for forcible entry and detainer (FED). In filling out the form, Agan stated she was demanding possession of the rental home, as "[t]he defendants have been advised that I am terminating tenancy as they are causing clear and present danger by exposing our other mobile home tenants to the screaming, yelling and physical abuse that they display. The police have been there many times."

         The matter was set for hearing in small claims court, but neither Tammy nor Greg appeared. On July 24, the court entered a default judgment against the Krambecks and issued a writ of removal and possession, formally evicting them from their home.

         On July 27, Tammy[2] filed a motion to set aside the default judgment, pursuant to Iowa Code section 631.12. She alleged neither she nor Greg attended the hearing on the FED action because of her medical condition and claimed she had a number of defenses and counterclaims to Agan's motion, including "lack of proper notice as the clear and present danger notice does not set forth the statutory cure language." (Altered for readability.) In an affidavit attached to her motion, Tammy swore she "was not able to make it to the hearing because of [her] medical condition. [She] was having seizures before the hearing and [her] husband needed to stay ...


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