from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Joel D.
appeal from the district court's grant of defendants'
motions for summary judgment on their claims against a bank
and bank president for fraudulent misrepresentation and
interference with contract.
C. Riley of Tom Riley Law Firm, P.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for
Matthew Preston of Brady, Preston & Gronlund PC, Cedar
Rapids, for appellees Peoples Trust and Savings Bank and
Raymond R. Rinkol Jr. of Bradley & Riley PC, Cedar
Rapids, for appellee Chris Goerdt.
by Doyle, P.J., Blane, S.J. [*] and Lloyd, S.J.
brought an action for fraudulent misrepresentation and
interference with contract when a bank allegedly breached an
agreement to lend them money. The plaintiffs claimed this
damaged their limousine business and a yet-to-be-developed
wedding venue. The district court granted the bank, its
holding company, and the bank's former president's
motions for summary judgment because the plaintiffs'
claims were barred by the statutes of frauds found in Iowa
Code sections 535.17 and 622.32 (2017) and because it
concluded the plaintiffs could not prove damages. Plaintiffs
appeal contending the district court misapplied these
statutes or an unsigned document authored by the bank
president takes their claims outside the statutes of frauds.
conclude that plaintiffs' claims were a greater stretch
than one of their limousines and that the district court
correctly granted defendants summary judgment.
BACKGROUND FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
plaintiffs, Jacqueline Geiger and Bruce Tracy, allege Peoples
Trust and Savings Bank (Peoples Bank) and its then-president,
Chris Goerdt, made either a written or oral agreement to lend
them money to develop property in Illinois into a wedding
venue and event center, to be named Prairie Rose Event
Center. Peoples Bank has its headquarters in Washington
once operated a long-held family farm in Illinois and
currently operates a limousine business, Classic Thunder
Limousine, in Riverside, Iowa. Tracy has "unresolved
credit issues" that prevent him from obtaining a loan,
including tax liens, bankruptcy, and repossessions. Tracy had
not filed personal or business income tax returns for
had sold his Illinois farm to his friend and investor,
William Reichow. Reichow, Tracy, and Geiger agreed that
Geiger should take out a loan to purchase the farm from
Reichow, which Geiger and Tracy could then, with
improvements, operate as the events center. Tracy was to run
the financial end of the business. Geiger would hold the
title in the farm and be named in all business documents. She
would also run the operations side of the business.
Meanwhile, Geiger purchased Classic Thunder, which Tracy
continued to operate.
president of Peoples Bank, learned of the planned event
center in 2014. He became familiar with Geiger, Tracy, and
Reichow. Tracy testified that in August 2015, Goerdt called
him and Geiger to his office at the bank and presented them
with a document labeled, "Easy & Simple
Solution" (ESS). The document, handwritten on lined
notebook paper, appears to set out a plan of action for
refinancing the farm and Classic Thunder. Tracy testified
Goerdt induced them to take out the loans for the farm land
and Classic Thunder by saying they were "recommend[ed]
from the FDIC" (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)
and "already ha[d] the concurrence . . . [of] the bank
board." Later on, in interrogatories and depositions,
Geiger and Tracy reported they understood the document and
their conversation with Goerdt as an agreement for Peoples
Bank to lend them money to develop Prairie Rose Events
and Tracy executed two promissory notes with Peoples Bank.
One note for $240, 000 was against the debt in Classic
Thunder and named Tracy as the borrower, even though he no
longer had an interest in the business. With a second note of
$252, 000, Geiger bought the farm from Reichow. Geiger used
the farm as collateral for the second note. Tracy was no
longer owner of either the limousine business or the
December 2015, Goerdt resigned his position at the bank. In
his resignation letter, he pointed to some organizational and
management complaints with the bank's holding company,
Country Bancorporation. In July 2016, Peoples Bank sent Tracy
an acceleration notice telling him he was in default on the
loans and demanding full payment. When it also became clear
to Geiger and Tracy they were not going to receive a loan to
develop the farm into the Prairie Rose Event Center, they
filed a petition at law alleging fraudulent misrepresentation
and interference with existing and prospective contracts and
seeking a temporary injunction to prohibit Peoples Bank from
initiating any proceedings against them in Illinois on the
and Tracy specifically claimed the ESS document and the
conversation they had with Goerdt constitute a written and
oral agreement for the bank to lend them enough money to fund
the development of Prairie Rose. They joined Country
Bancorporation as a defendant based on negligence in hiring,
supervising, and retaining Goerdt at Peoples Bank. As
damages, Geiger and Tracy alleged an "offset or judgment
for any amount owed to Peoples" from the defaulted
loans, lost profits from the unfinished Prairie Rose project,
and lost profits from the limousine business.
defendants filed for summary judgment, asserting several
affirmative defenses. Following a hearing, the trial court
granted Goerdt and Peoples Bank's motions for summary
judgment, which the court found rendered the claims against
Country Bancorporation moot. Although Geiger and Tracy sought
enlargement of the findings, the district court denied their
motion. Geiger and Tracy appeal.
SCOPE AND ...