RICHARD J. HOLMAN and BECKY S. HOLMAN, individually, as father and mother and next friend of C.L.H., a minor, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
DAC, INC., Defendant-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Michael J.
plaintiffs appeal the order granting summary judgment on
their negligence claims in favor of the defendant.
A. Wooden, Todd K. Klapatauskas, and Natalia H. Blaskovich of
Reynolds & Kenline, L.L.P., Dubuque, for appellants.
M. Boes, Jason C. Palmer, and Robert J. Thole of Bradshaw,
Fowler, Proctor & Fairgrave, P.C., Des Moines, for
by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and Schumacher, JJ.
group home providing caretaking services to an individual
with intellectual disabilities owe a duty to protect third
parties from the harmful acts of that resident? The district
court determined it did not and granted summary judgment for
the group home operator on negligence claims brought by the
parents of a child who was injured by one of the home's
district court determined the group home operator, DAC, Inc.
(DAC), did not owe a duty to third parties because it did not
have a custodial relationship with its resident, Robert
Robbins. In the alternative, and assuming the relationship
was custodial, the court determined DAC did not owe a duty to
third parties because Robbins's residence at DAC's
Flora Home was for rehabilitative purposes only and not to
protect the public at large. We agree with the district court
and affirm its ruling.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
operates Flora Home, a group home in Dubuque that provides
home and community based services (HCBS) under Medicaid's
intellectual disability waiver program. Flora Home provides
services to its residents based on individualized need as
identified in each resident's individual care plan.
See Iowa Admin. Code r. 441-78.41(1). These services
must "be appropriate to the severity of the member's
problems and to the member's specific needs or
disabilities." See id. r. 441-78.27(4)(a)(6).
Robbins is a person with an intellectual disability who moved
into Flora Home on February 16, 2015. Robbins's
behavioral history shows he engages in verbal aggression and
has a history of physical aggression. Incidents of sexual
abuse are mentioned in his social history; one in which a
caretaker sexually abused Robbins when he was a child and
another in which Robbins sexually abused a child.
individual care plan included several restrictions. It
prohibited his access to medications, dangerous objects, and
money. The plan also limited Robbins's alone time to
eight hours in the community and four hours in the home. The
plan also limited Robbins to showering up to one-half hour
weeks after he moved into Flora Home, staff reported Robbins
for inappropriate conduct many times. One week after moving
in, Robbins tried to lure a staff member into a dark bathroom
where he was showering, stating, "I have sexual
tendencies with you." A few days later while alone in a
room with a staff member, Robbins turned off the light, shut
the door, and demanded that she "pull down [her] pants
right now" before forcibly trying to remove her pants.
March 4, Sarah Bourland, the DAC coordinator of Flora Home,
wrote the following in an email to Neil Candee, Robbins's