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Clauss v. Laidlaw & Company UK Ltd

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 23, 2019

ROBERT CLAUSS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LAIDLAW & COMPANY UK LTD, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Gregory D. Brandt, District Associate Judge.

         Upon discretionary review, defendant Laidlaw & Company UK LTD appeals the district court's ruling affirming the small claims court magistrate's ruling denying defendant's motion to set aside the small claims judgment. AFFIRMED.

          Nathan Vos of Vos Law Firm, PLC, West Des Moines, for appellant.

          David A. Morse of Law Offices of David A. Morse, Des Moines, for appellee.

          Considered by Bower, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.

          DOYLE, JUDGE

         Upon discretionary review, defendant Laidlaw & Company UK LTD appeals the district court's ruling affirming the small claims court magistrate's ruling denying defendant's motion to set aside the small claims judgment. We affirm the entry of the small claims court's judgment for plaintiff Robert Clauss.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         In December 2017, Robert Clauss brought a small claims suit against Laidlaw & Company (UK) LTD ("Laidlaw"). Clauss alleged Laidlaw or its agents made three unsolicited sales calls to his number registered on the Do Not Call List, and he requested damages in the amount of $4500 plus court costs. Clauss filed several documents along with the petition, including a "Verification of Account, Identification of Judgment Debtor, and Certificate Re Military Service," affirming he was the party filing the petition and "the sum of $4500 is the balance due and owing." Clauss also filed a document supporting his assertion that his number had been registered on the National Do Not Call Registry since 2003 and his affidavit setting forth details of calls he claimed to have receive from Laidlaw. His affidavit further stated:

Based upon the multiple calls received from [Laidlaw] and/or its agents, I can only conclude that [Laidlaw's] violations of the Do Not Call Registry were willful and intentional as well as in disregard of the protections to be afforded me by registering my telephone number on the Do Not Call Registry.

         Proof of service was made on December 21, 2017 by the Iowa Secretary of State under Iowa Code section 617.3 (2017).

         On February 16, 2018, Laidlaw filed its appearance and answer denying Clauss's claims, using small claims eForm 3.11. See Iowa Ct. R. 3.11; see also Iowa Code § 631.15 ("The supreme court shall prescribe standard forms of pleadings to be used in small claims actions. Standard forms promulgated by the supreme court shall be the exclusive forms used."). It also submitted and filed a letter to the court, seeming to assert some affirmative defenses. The letter also claimed Clauss had filed two actions against it and asked the court to dismiss one of the actions.

         After receiving Laidlaw's answer, a hearing was set for March 7, 2018. There is no dispute Laidlaw received notice of the hearing.

         That hearing took place as scheduled March 7, 2018, before a magistrate. Laidlaw failed to appear for trial. The magistrate entered judgment for Clauss against Laidlaw in the amount of $4500 plus interest and court costs. The magistrate's order stated Laidlaw "failed to appear for trial . . . after receiving proper notice. Pursuant to Iowa Code section 631.10 (2017), judgment may be ...


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