DELORIS GRACE YOUNG, by and through her attorney-in-fact Robert A. Young and Joan E. Ambrose, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
RALLY APPRAISAL, L.L.C. and FUHRMEISTER APPRAISAL, L.L.C., Defendants-Appellees.
from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Chad A.
beneficiary of an estate challenges the grant of summary
judgment to two appraisal companies on her claim of negligent
Kirk and Eashaan Vajpeyi of Ball, Kirk & Holm, Waterloo,
A. Schultheis and Ethan S. Olson of Nyemaster Goode, P.C.,
Des Moines, for appellee Fuhrmeister Appraisal, L.L.C.
M. VonKampen and Graham R. Carl of Simmons Perrine Moyer
Bergman PLC, Cedar Rapids, for appellee Rally Appraisal,
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
issue in this case is 59.14 acres of agricultural land just
north of the city of North Liberty appraised at $1.24
million. The land belonged to the estate of William
Young. A beneficiary of that estate, Deloris
Grace Young, appeals the grant of summary judgment in favor
of two appraisal companies on her claim of negligent
misrepresentation. Because the district court appropriately
found no genuine issue of material fact on the element of
justifiable reliance, and the appraisers were entitled to
judgment as a matter of law, we affirm.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
and Richard Young raised their three children-William,
Robert, and Joan-on a farm just outside of North Liberty. As
an adult, William became a real estate developer and
purchased nearly sixty acres of farmland adjacent to their
home farm. William died in July 2014. His will-prepared
before his marriage to Mary-left a life estate in his assets
to his parents Grace and Richard, and a remainder interest to
his siblings Robert and Joan. In September 2014, Mary filed
an election to take her share as his surviving spouse under
Iowa Code section 633.238 (2014). Richard died later that
same month, leaving Grace as the sole owner of the life
estate in her son William's assets.
administration of William's estate required negotiations
concerning the distribution of assets and assumption of
liabilities between Grace and Mary to settle Mary's
claim. According to Grace, key to those negotiations was an
appraisal of the real estate owned by William at the time of
executor of William's estate, the trust department of
U.S. Bank hired Rally Appraisal, L.L.C. to estimate the
"fee simple market value" of two parcels of
agricultural land totaling 59.14 acres in Johnson County as
of the date of William's death. Rally Appraisal inspected
the property in November 2014 and delivered its report the
following month. The property was "located immediately
north of North Liberty. The land to the south has been
developed with single family housing and the subject land has
residential development potential in the near future."
Still, the report listed the "highest and best use of
the land" as "agricultural." Using a
"sales comparison approach," the report estimated
the land's value at $1.24 million.
siblings, Robert and Joan, served as attorneys-in-fact for
their elderly mother, Grace. After receiving the Rally report,
Joan emailed her brother Robert to suggest seeking "a
second opinion on the 60 acres appraisal." She
speculated the "comparable properties" used in the
Rally appraisal already fed into North Liberty sewer lines,
but "the 60 acres is not sewer ready and will not be any
time soon." She relayed a conversation she had with a
city planner who "could not predict" whether the
land would be used for residential purposes within five years
but confirmed the development focus was on the east side of
town, where a new high school was opening. Joan believed the
estimated value was too high, opining "this appraisal is
a bit slanted toward a price that is more than five years out
and certainly not 'as of' Bill's death
date." Joan also communicated her opinion the appraisal
was too high to Grace's attorney Joseph Moreland. She
informed Moreland William's 2012 financial statement
listed the property's value at $600, 000.
likewise had concerns that two of the "comparables"
used in Rally's appraisal were not really
"comparable" to the 60 acres at issue. He conveyed
his concerns to Jim Larew, the estate's attorney. But the
estate decided not to seek another appraisal. So, in February
2015, Robert and Joan asked attorney Moreland to line up a
second opinion at their mother's expense. Moreland
contacted Fuhrmeister Appraisal, L.L.C. Dan Fuhrmeister
reviewed the Rally report and responded:
I have completed some preliminary research. I feel the sales
used are realistic and the value is in line. . . . .
Development potential looks strong for this property. Based
on the information I have seen, I do not feel my value will