from the Iowa District Court for Chickasaw County, Stephanie
C. Rattenborg, District Associate Judge.
discretionary review, defendant Janise Firman challenges the
small claims judgment entered against her based on Iowa Code
section § 597.14 (2017). REVERSED AND REMANDED FOR
O'Donohoe of Elwood, O'Donohoe, Braun, White, LLP,
Charles City, for appellant.
Phillip James Addis of Addis Law, LLC, La Crosse, for
Considered by Vogel, P.J., McDonald, J., and Blane, S.J.
case is before us on discretionary review from a small claims
judgment entered against both Dirk Firman and Janise Firman.
Defendant Janise Firman challenges the entry of judgment
against her. Because we find the evidence was not
sufficient to establish Janise was married to Dirk at the
time he incurred a reasonable and necessary medical expense,
we reverse the judgment and remand for dismissal of the
action against Janise. Since we decide this appeal on the
first issue, we find it unnecessary to address the other
issues raised by Janise.
Factual and procedural background.
19, 2013, Dirk received medical care at Waverly Health Center
in Waverly, Iowa, for which he incurred medical expenses.
After partial payment by a medical insurance carrier, there
remained three separate statements for unpaid medical
expenses in the total amount of $2808. After unsuccessful
attempts to recover this amount, Waverly Health Center
assigned the account for collection to Tristate Adjustments,
April 12, 2017, Tristate filed a petition in small claims
against Dirk and Janise for money judgment in the amount of
$2808 based on "Past due account with: Waverly Health
Center." Both Dirk and Janise filed small claims
"Appearance and Answer" forms with the line
checked, "The claim is denied." Janise also filed a
motion to dismiss on the basis that she was not named on any
of the Waverly Health Center bills and did not have any
business relations with Waverly Health Center.
small claim trial was held on September 28, 2017, before the
magistrate. The parties were represented by counsel. Tristate
presented its evidence through its representative, Patricia
Thompson. Her testimony at the trial regarding whether Dirk
and Janise were married on June 19, 2013, when Dirk received
the medical services at Waverly Health Center was as follows:
Q. And it's your position that Dirk and Janise were
married at the time these charges were incurred?
Q. Is it your position that the spouse is responsible for
the care given the other spouse?
A. Right, correct.
On cross-examination, Thompson testified: