SHELLI R. FREER, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of NICOLE J. SANSOM and MICHAEL SANSOM, Individually, Appellants,
DAC, INC. d/b/a PRAIRIE HOUSE, Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Jackson County, Mark J.
plaintiffs challenge the district court's grant of motion
to enforce settlement agreement and dismissal of
plaintiffs' posttrial motion as moot. AFFIRMED.
W. Kyle of Hupy and Abraham, S.C., P.C., Milwaukee, WI, for
Patrick L. Woodward and Ryan F. Gerdes of McDonald, Woodward
& Carlson, P.C., Davenport, for appellee.
appeal the district court's dismissal of their posttrial
motion. Upon review, we consider plaintiffs' posttrial
motion waived. Accordingly, plaintiffs did not preserve any
issues for appellate review. We affirm the district
court's order entering judgment for defendant.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
trial was held on the wrongful death of Nicole Sansom. During
deliberations, counsel for each party entered into a high-low
settlement agreement. The written agreement consisted of the
plaintiff Freer emailing a one-liner to the defendant DAC,
Inc. and DAC emailing a one-liner in response:
Freer: "They agree to the high low of 100k to 1
DAC: "Confirmed. Now we wait and see what the jury
that same day, the jury determined DAC was not liable and
awarded no damages. On July 25, 2017, the district court
entered judgment for DAC. On August 2, Freer filed a timely
posttrial combined motion for new trial and change of venue.
See Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.1007 (posttrial motion for new
trial must be filed within fifteen days after filing of the
verdict). The posttrial motion alleged violation of a granted
motion in limine, errors by the district court in denying
Freer's motions for mistrial and failing to notify
counsel of jury communications, and undue influence of DAC
over the jury. DAC resisted and filed a motion to enforce the
high-low settlement agreement and to strike Freer's
October 13, the district court held a hearing on the motions.
It granted DAC's motion to enforce the settlement
agreement and deemed Freer's posttrial motion moot. The
district court pronounced this judgment from the bench.
Nonetheless, on November 7, before the entry of a written
order on the posttrial motion, Freer appealed. DAC timely
cross-appealed the district court's judgment.
See Iowa R. Civ. P. 6.101(2)(b) (notice of
cross-appeal must be filed within ten days after the filing
of a notice of appeal). On appeal, Freer argues it was error
for the district court to determine the posttrial motion as
moot. She also asserts the high-low settlement agreement does
not preclude the district court from hearing arguments and
rendering a determination as to the propriety of the
posttrial motion. Freer lastly contends the district court
abused its discretion in denying the motions for mistrial.
DAC argues the district court erred in denying its motion to
exclude expert testimony and in granting Freer's motion
retained the appeal. However, we determined the
jurisdictional requirement of Iowa Rule of Appellate
Procedure 6.101(1)(b) was not met. Rule
6.101(1)(b) requires "[a] notice of appeal must
be filed within 30 days after the filing of the final
order or judgment." Iowa R. App. P.
6.101(1)(b) (emphasis added). We previously
addressed this jurisdictional requirement in Lutz v. Iowa
Swine Exps. Corp., 300 N.W.2d 109');">300 N.W.2d 109, 112 (Iowa 1981). We
concluded "an oral order may be probative evidence as to
the effective time of an order, but until it is in some
manner reduced to writing and filed there is no competent
evidence of the rendition of such order." Id.
To support this conclusion, we cited caselaw stating
"[t]he reason for requiring orders to be made in writing
and recorded is that the court might change its ruling before
the order is signed and entered." Id. at
jurisdictional rule at issue in Freer's appeal expressly
identified that a final order or judgment must be
filed before an appeal can be pursued. See
Iowa R. App. P. 6.101(1)(b). Accordingly, we
remanded to the district court for the limited purpose of
entry of a written order, nunc pro tunc, on the posttrial
motion. On February 15, 2019, the district court
filed a written order that enforced the high-low settlement
agreement and denied Freer's posttrial
Standard of Review.
motion to enforce a settlement agreement is reviewed for
correction of errors at law. Wright v. Scott, 410
N.W.2d 247, 249-50 (Iowa 1987). "The district court has
authority to enforce settlement agreements made in a pending
case." Gilbride v. Trunnelle, 620 N.W.2d 244,
249 (Iowa 2000).
review, we consider Freer's posttrial motion waived. A
moving party is deemed to have waived and abandoned a
posttrial motion when that party files a notice of appeal.
IBP, Inc. v. Al-Gharib, 604 N.W.2d 621, 628 (Iowa
2000); In re Estate of Herron, 561 N.W.2d 30, 32
(Iowa 1997). Freer is the same party who filed the posttrial
motion and who filed the notice of appeal. Therefore, Freer
is deemed to have waived and abandoned her posttrial motion.
See Lemke v. Albright, 383 N.W.2d 520, 522 (Iowa
1986) (reasoning if the abandonment of a posttrial motion
perfected the appeal, logically an appeal is not abandoned by
relying on a posttrial motion to extend time for appeal
beyond the thirty-day period). A jurisdictional problem will
not arise because the appeal is considered taken as a matter
of right. IBP, Inc., 604 N.W.2d at 628. "An
appeal is taken and perfected by filing a notice of appeal
with the clerk of court where the order, judgment or decree
was entered." Wolf v. City of Ely, 493 N.W.2d
846, 848 (Iowa 1992) (en banc). In filing the notice of
appeal, Freer divested the district court of jurisdiction
over the posttrial motion. See IBP, Inc., 604 N.W.2d
at 628 ("Additionally, once the appeal is perfected, the
district court loses jurisdiction to rule on the motion, and
any such ruling has no legal effect."). "The
general rule that the district court loses jurisdiction when
an appeal is perfected has application when the appeal is