from the Iowa District Court for Cass County, James M.
plaintiff appeals from the district court's summary
dismissal of her claims for defamation, abuse of process,
malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional
Gustafson, Villisca, pro se.
L. Fisher of Fisher, Fisher & Groetken, PC, Adair, (until
withdrawal) and Kyle J. McGinn of McGinn, Springer &
Noethe, PLC, Council Bluffs, (withdrawn as of filing), for
Zachary M. Winter, Robert M. Livingston, and Kristopher K.
Madsen of Stuart Tinley Law Firm LLP, Council Bluffs, for
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.
Gustafson appeals from the district court's summary
dismissal of her claims against Tracey Bell and Shelly Towne
for defamation, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, and
intentional infliction of emotional distress. Gustafson
maintains the district court erred because there are genuine
issues of material fact in dispute that preclude the summary
dismissal of each of her claims.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
and Gustafson are former neighbors. Gustafson has a history
of harassing Bell and Bell's family; this has resulted in
criminal prosecutions for harassment and no-contact orders
Bell went to the county attorney's office to discuss
Gustafson's behavior. The county attorney advised Bell
she should consider filing an application for the
mental-health commitment of Gustafson.
September 1, 2016, Bell filled out an application alleging
Gustafson was "suffering from serious mental
impairment" and that she was "a danger to . . .
herself or others or may be causing serious emotional injury
to persons who are unable to remove themselves from [her]
presence." Bell checked "no" next to the
question "Do you request [Gustafson] be taken into
immediate custody?" Bell attached an affidavit detailing
both Gustafson's past and more recent behavior. It
stated, in part:
[Gustafson] was calling the police department with false
complaints (most of which I was at work when she was
calling), she made statements about me killing her dog,
assaulting her, stalking her, etc. She was calling my
employment stating that my boss was going to be getting calls
from the [Department of Criminal Investigations] as she had
called and turned us in for stuff. [Gustafson] was stalking
and harassing my family especially my youngest child.
[Gustafson] was following her all over town, making at least
20 trips by my home daily, my child lived in fear of
[Gustafson]. [Gustafson] called [the Department of Human
Services] on our family last June stating my husband was
showering with my daughters, which was completely unfounded.
We were investigated by DHS and very humiliated by all of
it[;] she was going to the church and telling them the same
thing. The no-contact order was then dismissed (we
protested). . . . [Gustafson] has begun chasing my daughter
again (she now drives a moped). [Gustafson] has been
following her all over town, with our fear being our child
may not be able to stop fast enough with how close she is
chasing her and she will get hurt. [Gustafson] has been
driving by our home repeatedly again, making more false phone
calls to the police department. . . .
. . . Last week before the no-contact order was in place,
[Gustafson] chased my daughter through the cemetery as she
was visiting her grandfather's gravesite along with being
in front of my house taking pictures of my child and the
neighbor's children. We have that captured on video of
her doing this.
affidavit was dated August 24, 2016.
county attorney contacted Shelly Towne, who is employed as a
dispatcher for the local police department, and asked her to
prepare an affidavit and statement relating to the dispatch
calls she had received from Gustafson. On September 1, Towne
filled out an affidavit in support of an application alleging
Gustafson was seriously mentally impaired. In the attached
affidavit, Towne stated, in part:
I am employed as a dispatcher for the Atlantic Police
Department. In the last two year[s] I have become very
familiar with . . . Gustafson through numerous calls that she
has made to our department. There have been days where she
called 3-4 times within an hour. She has made several calls
concerning Trac[e]y and Clint Bell, and Trac[e]y's
daughter . . . . [Gustafson] always believes that they are
following her and getting people to keep an eye on her for
listed some of the calls Gustafson had made to dispatch and
their stated purpose before concluding:
On 8-23-16, we had 3 calls within 45 min. I got a call from
[the sheriff] on the same day saying that [Gustafson] was
also calling . . . the Sheriff's office and his cell
phone. [Gustafson] is always saying she is investigating
people and will call us with more information. [Gustafson]
has told me before that she works with investigators out of
noted the dispatch center had received seventeen calls from
Gustafson in approximately the previous three weeks, which
did not include the calls Gustafson made to the sheriff's
office or to the sheriff's cell phone.
application and affidavits were filed September 2. Although
the application did not ask for Gustafson to be taken into
immediate custody, the district court considering the
application entered an order finding there was "probable
cause to believe" Gustafson was seriously mentally
impaired and that it was necessary to detain her. The order
provided for the immediate hospitalization of Gustafson in