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Greatamerica Financial Services Corporation v. Monge & Associates, P.C.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 7, 2019

GREATAMERICA FINANCIAL SERVICES CORPORATION, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MONGE & ASSOCIATES, P.C., Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Chad A. Kepros, Judge.

          Samuel E. Jones and Vincent S. Geis of Suttleworth & Ingersoll, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

          Randall D. Armentrout and Leslie C. Behaunek of Nyemaster Goode, P.C., Des Moines, for appellee.

          Considered by Mullins, P.J., Bower, J., and Vogel, S.J. [*]

          BOWER, Judge.

         Monge & Associates, P.C., appeals from the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of GreatAmerica Financial Services Corporation in this breach-of-contract action. AFFIRMED.

         Monge & Associates, P.C. (Monge), appeals from the court's order granting summary judgment in favor of GreatAmerica Financial Services Corporation (GreatAmerica) in this breach-of-contract action. Monge contends the trial court erred in failing to consider the close-connection doctrine it raised as an affirmative defense. Finding no error, we affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         The following facts are undisputed.

         GreatAmerica filed a petition contending, Monge (a Florida law firm) leased telephonic equipment from a Florida corporation, Vertical Communications, Inc. (Vertical). On March 13, 2017, Monge sought financing of the system, and it submitted an application for financing through Vertical, which Vertical submitted directly to GreatAmerica, an Iowa corporation. GreatAmerica pre-approved the financing application. Monge and Vertical then entered into a Prefund Request and Authorization/Agreement No. 1234104 (Agreement 1234104) for the lease and installation of a telephone system involving fifty-five phones worth approximately $70, 000. Additionally, on April 17, 2017, Monge and Vertical entered into Prefund Request and Authorization/Add-On No. 1234104-001 (Add On 1234104-001) for financing for the sale of additional cables, licenses, and subscriptions, with an additional monthly payment of $363.90 for thirty-four months. Vertical sought and received preapproval for the financing from GreatAmerica.

         GreatAmerica alleged Vertical assigned the Agreement and Add-On to GreatAmerica, and GreatAmerica provided financing for Monge. GreatAmerica further alleged Monge failed to make the required payments on the Agreement and Add-On, constituting a breach of written contract.

         Monge answered, generally denying the allegations and asserting affirmative defenses, including:

(2) Pursuant to the close connection doctrine, the actions of Vertical Communications, Inc. negate [GreatAmerica's] ability to assert claims as a holder in due course.
(3) The subject agreement is unenforceable under the doctrine of impossibility and/or impracticability.
(4) The subject agreement is unenforceable under the doctrine of frustration of purpose.
5) The subject agreement is unenforceable under the doctrine of unconscionability.
6) [Monge] is not liable to [GreatAmerica] because of the ...

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