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DeHaai v. City of Monroe

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 20, 2019

MARY DeHAAI, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
CITY OF MONROE and PARTIES IN POSSESSION, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jasper County, Terry R. Rickers, Judge.

         A property owner appeals the dismissal of her petition to quiet title. AFFIRMED.

          Andrew G. Aeilts of A.G. Law, PLLC, Pella, and Thomas P. Slater of Slater & Norris, PLC, West Des Moines, for appellant.

          Gilbert R. Caldwell III of Caldwell, Brierly & Chalupa, PLLC, Newton, for appellees.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Mary DeHaai seeks reversal of the district court decision dismissing her quiet-title claim against the City of Monroe and denial of her motion for leave to amend. We affirm the district court's decision.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         DeHaai has owned and lived in a residence and adjoining lot fronting on American Street in the City of Monroe for forty-three years. Immediately south of DeHaai's property line, the City of Monroe owns a sixty-foot wide strip of land which contains American Street with a strip of land on either side of the street. The City's ownership was established via a recorded quitclaim deed dated in 1965.

         On November 7, 2017, DeHaai filed a petition to quiet title naming the City of Monroe and "Parties in Possession." The property DeHaai sought quiet title to is the land lying between the south boundaries of the lots she holds title to and the physical boundaries of American Street.[1]

         DeHaai's petition alleged she had "cared for, maintained, mowed, and otherwise exercised sole dominion and control" of the land for over forty years. The City filed a motion to dismiss, claiming DeHaai failed to adequately plead all the elements of adverse possession. During the hearing on the motion to dismiss, DeHaai made an oral motion for leave to amend her petition. The court did not immediately rule on the motion. On January 3, 2018, the court granted the City's motion to dismiss.

         II. Standard of Review

         Our review of a district court's ruling on a motion to dismiss is for correction of errors at law. Pettit v. Iowa Dep't of Corr., 891 N.W.2d 189, 193 (Iowa 2017). "We accept the petition's well-pleaded factual allegations as true, but not its legal conclusions." Iowa Individual Health Benefit Reins. Ass'n v. State Univ. of Iowa, 876 N.W.2d 800, 804 (Iowa 2016). "Denial of a motion to amend will only be reversed where a clear abuse of discretion is shown." Daniels v. Holtz, 794 N.W.2d 813, 817 (Iowa 2010).

         III. ...


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