from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Jeffrey L.
interlocutory appeal, the plaintiffs appeal the district
court's ruling requiring them to amend or restate their
petition to bring their lawsuit in their real names.
A. Fankhauser of Fankhauser Rachel, PLC, Sioux City, for
S. Moeller of John S. Moeller, PC, Sioux City, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., Doyle, J., and Mahan, S.J.
POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.
question before us is whether John Doe and James Doe, who are
both HIV positive,  can proceed in an action against Sally
Gill for disseminating information about their diagnoses
without using their own names in the public court filings.
and James filed their lawsuit asking for monetary damages and
alleging Gill had invaded their privacy, intentionally
inflicted emotional distress, interfered with their business
relations, and violated Iowa Code chapter 141 (2017). At the
same time, they also filed a protected information disclosure
form, which provided their real names and the necessary
identification information. The lawsuit proceeded under the
names John and James Doe until Gill filed a motion to require
the plaintiffs to prosecute their case in the names of the
real parties at interest. John and James resisted, and the
district court held an unreported hearing on the issue.
court ultimately granted Gill's motion, stating:
No procedure exists in the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure for
the filing of plaintiff John Doe petitions in Iowa.
The court is concerned with the practicalities of how this
case could be tried to a jury without identification of the
plaintiffs. Protection of confidential information in the
restated or amended petition may be addressed by appropriate
motions to increase security setting on any amended or
and James appeal.
John and James assert this matter is in equity and thus we
may fashion an equitable solution. But this is properly an
action at law. See Weltzin v. Nail, 618 N.W.2d 293,
297 (Iowa 2000) (noting that in determining whether an action
is one in equity or at law, "the remedy sought is of
minimal importance-it is the nature of the cause of action,
i.e. where the case is properly docketed, that is the
deciding factor"); Biermann v. Guaranty Mut. Life.
Ins. Co., 120 N.W. 963, 964 (Iowa 1909) ("Generally
speaking, equity has no jurisdiction where there is an
adequate remedy at law."); Wenger v. Crooked Creek
Shooting Preserve, No. 07-1643, 2008 WL 2520787, at *2
(Iowa Ct. App. June 25, 2008) (providing torts claims are
normally tried at law). Moreover, the district court also
understood this to be an action at law, as it noted in its
ruling that the case would ultimately be tried to a jury.
See Weltzin, 618 N.W.2d at 296-97 (acknowledging
there is generally no right to a jury trial in cases brought
and James acknowledge Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.201,
which provides, in part, "Every action must be
prosecuted in the name of the real party in interest."
However, they assert that Iowa Rules of Electronic Procedure
provide for the confidential filing in this instance and
maintain the rules related to electronic procedure control.
See Iowa R. Elec. P. 16.103 ("To the extent
these rules are inconsistent with any other Iowa court rule,