CURT ANDERSON and CAROL ANDERSON, Petitioners/Cross-Appellants,
STATE OF IOWA, ex rel. IOWA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Respondent-Appellee. JEFFREY ENGLAND, LARRY ENGLAND, and CHARLOTTE ENGLAND, Petitioners-Appellants,
from the Iowa District Court for Wapello County, Joel D.
and cross-appellants challenge the department of
transportation's cancellation of an auction for the sale
of a parcel of land.
A. Olson and Christine E. Branstad of Branstad Law, PLLC, Des
Moines, and Steven P. Wandro of Wandro & Associates,
P.C., for appellants.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and David S. Gorham, Noel C.
Hindt (until withdrawal), and Richard E. Mull (until
withdrawal), Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee.
Zingg of Denefe, Gardner & Zingg, P.C., Ottumwa, for
by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
administrative appeal, appellants Kurt and Carol Anderson and
cross-appellants Jeffrey, Larry, and Charlotte England
(collectively "the Englands") challenge the Iowa
Department of Transportation's (DOT's) cancellation
of an auction for a parcel of land. The DOT affirmed the
cancellation in a declaratory order. The district court
affirmed the declaratory order. We also affirm.
owns the parcel of land at issue in this appeal. In 2016, the
DOT decided to dispose of the parcel by auction. The DOT
opened the auction to the owners of the three abutting pieces
of property: Jon and Cheryl Simparcel, Kurt and Carol
Anderson, and Jeffrey England. The DOT sent the owners of
each abutting parcel a letter and a bidding form. The letter
stated that "Iowa DOT policy allows a purchase
preference for all abutting owner(s) of land to be
sold." The letter stated it would give preference to
bids that equaled or exceeded the fair market value of the
parcel, which the DOT determined was $45, 000. The bid form
stated that to submit a valid bid the bidder must include a
check with the returned form. The form also pre-printed $45,
000 as the default bid amount: "I herewith submit an
unconditional offer of $45, 000 to the [DOT] for the
purchase of the following land[.]" Finally, the form
stated "The [DOT] reserves the right to waive any
technicalities and to reject any or all bids or offers."
Andersons returned a completed form. The bid form offered
$45, 000 and was accompanied by a check for the same amount.
Jeffrey England also submitted a form. Jeffrey's bid form
left the pre-printed bid amount of $45, 000. However,
Jeffrey's bid was accompanied by a check signed by his
parents, Larry and Charlotte, in the amount of $51, 016.
After the Andersons learned another party was interested in
the property, they increased their bid to $50, 000. The
bidding period then closed.
the DOT called Jeffrey. The exact substance of that phone
call is not in the record. Jeffrey contends he was
"informed he was the high bidder for the parcel."
According to the agency, Jeffrey "was informed that the
check from Larry and Charlotte England for $51, 016 was the
highest offer, and that there were discrepancies between the
Offer to Buy Jeffrey England signed and the check received
from Larry and Charlotte England." Jeffrey was also
allegedly informed "the DOT would need to send a new
Offer to Buy form to Larry and Charlotte England, to be
signed so that the offer would match the check."
same day, the DOT also called Charlotte. It is unclear
exactly what transpired during this phone call. According to
the DOT, Charlotte was "informed of the discrepancies
between the Offer to Buy that Jeffrey England signed and the
check received from Larry and Charlotte England." She
was also told "that [the DOT] would be mailing her
paperwork, including a new Offer to Buy, to be signed by
Larry and Charlotte England, so that the offer would match
the DOT sent the Andersons a letter that explained that their
bid was unsuccessful. The DOT also returned the
Andersons' uncashed check.
after, the DOT attempted to mail Charlotte and Larry the
original, voided bid form that Jeffrey had submitted. The DOT
also sent a blank bid form and a note that said, "Cross
off the amount of $45, 000.00 and write in $51, 016.00 above
it and initial. Fill in name as Larry England and Charlotte
England. Please sign and date as 3-18-16." However,
because of a ...