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Hintermeister v. McCormick

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 24, 2019

JOHN L. HINTERMEISTER, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
BELIN McCORMICK, PC, NATHAN J. BARBER, RIVERVIEW HOTEL DEVELOPMENT, LLC, d/b/a MERRILL HOTEL & CONFERENCE CENTER, and MLC LAND COMPANY, LLC, Defendants-Appellees.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Patrick McElyea, Judge.

         Plaintiff appeals the district court decision granting summary judgment to defendants.

          Patrick L. Woodward and Ryan F. Gerdes (until withdrawal) of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson, P.C., Davenport, for appellant.

          Matthew C. McDermott of Belin McCormick, P.C., Des Moines, for appellee Belin McCormick, P.C.

          Steven J. Havercamp of Stanley, Lande & Hunter, P.C., Davenport, for appellees.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

          POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Plaintiff John Hintermeister appeals the district court decision granting summary judgment to defendants Nathan Barber, Belin McCormick, P.C., Riverview Hotel Development, LLC, and MLC Land Company, LLC for his claims of tortious interference with business relations and intentional infliction of emotional distress. We determine the district court properly granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         This case arises out of a real estate development project pursued by defendants MLC and Riverview. At all times relevant to this dispute, MLC and Riverview were represented by Barber, an attorney at Belin McCormick. In 2016, MLC and Riverview began purchasing parcels of land to develop the Merrill Hotel & Conference Center in downtown Muscatine. One of these parcels, an area of greenspace, was owned by the various condominium owners of the Pearlview Condominium Association (PCA) as tenants in common. Among these tenants were Ronald and Sally Bryant, who owned a three-twentieths fractional interest in the greenspace, and Thomas Meeker, a local businessperson who owned rental property in Muscatine and was president of PCA.

         At all times relevant to this dispute, PCA and Meeker individually were represented by plaintiff Hintermeister, an attorney with a part-time law practice at Hintermeister & Kundel. Hintermeister had sold his law practice to Steven Kundel in 2003, and the two attorneys agreed Hintermeister could continue to practice law with Kundel's practice, but only so long as Kundel consented.

         In connection with the sale of the greenspace, Barber reviewed the abstract of title and issued a preliminary title opinion on June 2, 2016. The title opinion identified two federal tax liens against the Bryants, which attached to their interest in the greenspace. Barber concluded the tax liens needed to be released in order for his clients to obtain marketable title to the property.

         At the same time MLC pursued the greenspace purchase, MLC also sought a construction loan of $20 million from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust (CRBT). The USDA required release of the Bryants' tax liens to satisfy the lender's title opinion.

         Hintermeister directly contacted James Howe, a manager of MLC, about closing the greenspace purchase. In a July 27, 2016 email, Hintermeister informed Howe he could not obtain a ...


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