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Hemmingsen v. Mings

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 1, 2019

ROBERT J. HEMMINGSEN and CHERYL R. HEMMINGSEN, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
ROBERT J. MINGS, JANI S. MINGS, and KATHLEEN L. MINGS, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Jeffrey L. Larson, Judge.

         The Hemmingsens appeal the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Mings.

          Robert J. Hemmingsen and Cheryl R. Hemmingsen, Council Bluffs, pro se appellants.

          Marti S. Sleister of Sleister Law, Fremont, Nebraska, for appellees.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Mullins, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, JUDGE.

         We must decide whether the doctrine of claim preclusion bars the present action.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         Robert and Cheryl Hemmingsen sued Robert, Jani, and Kathleen Mings for damages allegedly arising from the flow of water and silt residue toward the Hemmingsens' property. They claimed the Mings "altered the natural system of drainage from their domin[an]t estate in such a ma[nn]er as to substantially increase the burden upon [their] servient estate."

         The Mings moved for summary judgment.[1] They asserted the present lawsuit raised the same allegations as those contained in two prior lawsuits and the action was barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion.

         The district court granted the summary judgment motion. After taking judicial notice of prior court files, the court concluded the first lawsuit was "identical in alleging the Mings interfered with the enjoyment of the [Hemmingsens'] property." The court acknowledged a "difference" in the second lawsuit's "theory of recovery" but found the difference did not entitle the Hemmingsens to "a second day in court." The Hemmingsens appealed.

         II. Analysis

         Summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.981(3); Bandstra v. Covenant Reformed Church, 913 N.W.2d 19, 36 (Iowa 2018).

         A. ...


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