from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Sean W.
client appeals the grant of summary judgment in favor of his
former attorney in a legal malpractice action.
C. Riley of Tom Riley Law Firm, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for
Gregory M. Lederer and Shannon M. Powers of Lederer Weston
Craig PLC, Cedar Rapids, for appellees.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
Kinzenbaw appears before our court for a second time. The
first time he unsuccessfully challenged an order enforcing a
settlement agreement among the beneficiaries of his
mother's estate. We found substantial evidence supported
the district court's conclusion that his attorney, Eric
Tindal, had Kinzenbaw's consent to accept the settlement
offer. Estate of Kinzenbaw, No. 15-0981, 2016 WL
4051674, at *4 (Iowa Ct. App. July 27, 2016)
then sued Tindal for legal malpractice, alleging the attorney
did not have authority to settle his claim against the estate
for the sum of $233, 000. Kinzenbaw insisted his one-sixth
interest in his mother's farm was worth as much as $850,
000. Tindal moved for summary judgment, invoking issue
preclusion on the question of Kinzenbaw's consent to the
settlement agreement. The district court agreed Tindal's
authority to settle was "an essential and dispositive
issue" in the current case and granted summary judgment.
Kinzenbaw appeals that ruling.
review the grant of summary judgment for correction of legal
error. Employers Mut. Cas. Co. v. Van Haaften, 815
N.W.2d 17, 22 (Iowa 2012). "Summary judgment is
appropriate if there are no genuine issues of material fact
and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." Id. Whether a party proves the elements
of issue preclusion is a legal question. Id.
"Issue preclusion therefore is appropriately adjudicated
by summary judgment." Id.
preclusion promotes judicial economy. McIlravy v. N.
River Ins. Co., 653 N.W.2d 323, 330 (Iowa 2002). It does
so by preventing a party to a prior action from relitigating
issues that were already raised and resolved. Dettmann v.
Kruckenberg, 613 N.W.2d 238, 244 (Iowa 2000). The
doctrine has four requirements: (1) the issue previously
determined must be identical to the present issue; (2) it
must have been raised and litigated in the prior action; (3)
it must have been material to the prior disposition; and (4)
the issue's determination in the prior action must have
been essential to the resulting judgment. See id.
preclusion may be used defensively by a stranger to the
judgment in the former action, who becomes the defendant in
the second action. Id. For example, here, Tindal
relies upon the prior judgment-affirmed by our court-as
conclusively establishing in his favor an issue Kinzenbaw
must prove as an element of legal malpractice. See
id. But an exception exists to issue preclusion where
"the party against whom preclusion is sought had a
significantly heavier burden of persuasion with respect to
the issue in the initial action than in the subsequent
action." McIlravy, 653 N.W.2d at 330 (quoting
Restatement (Second) of Judgments § 28(4) (1982)).
appeal, Kinzenbaw argues the district court erred in deciding
issue preclusion barred his suit against Tindal. He contends
the court should have applied the exception for a first
action bearing a heavier burden of persuasion. He emphasizes
that in the prior action the attorney was "presumed to
act with authority." Gilbride v. Trunnelle, 620
N.W.2d 244, 251 (Iowa 2000). The standard for overcoming the
presumption was "clear and satisfactory proof."
district court nimbly knocked back Kinzenbaw's
contention, explaining: "Plaintiff's analysis
overlooks a key distinction between a presumption and the
burden of persuasion with respect to the
issue." The court observed the presumption of the
attorney's authority in the first action was
"closely connected to but distinct from the burden of
persuasion necessary to prevail in any given civil
action." The court further noted the effect of the
presumption was to shift the burden of producing evidence
with regard to the attorney's authority to Kinzenbaw. The
court reasoned Kinzenbaw would confront the same presumption
and its burden of rebuttal "[e]n route to proving his
case here by a preponderance of the evidence." The court
concluded Kinzenbaw did not face in Estate of
Kinzenbaw a significantly heavier burden of persuasion
with respect to the issue of attorney Tindal's authority
than he does in this malpractice action.
review, we agree with the district court's detailed and
well-reasoned opinion. Accordingly, we affirm the order
granting summary judgment under Iowa Court Rule 21.26(1)(d)
("The record of the proceeding includes an opinion of
the court or agency whose decision is being reviewed, the
opinion identifies and considers all the issues ...