Legal Memorandum: Grounds for Granting a New Trial in IA

Issue: When will an Iowa trial court grant a new trial based on a jury’s erroneous determination of municipal immunity?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: New trial; Jury's erroneous determination; Municipal immunity
Jurisdiction: Iowa
Cited Cases: 530 N.W.2d 703; 508 N.W.2d 724; 595 N.W.2d 751; 625 N.W.2d 736; 451 N.W.2d 168
Cited Statutes: Iowa R. App. P. 14(f)(1); Iowa R. App. P. 14(f)(10); Iowa Code Ann. § 670.4(10); Restatement (Second) of Torts § 318
Date: 12/01/2001

  A trial court’s denial of a motion for new trial is proper if, considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, substantial evidence supports the jury verdict.  See Revere Transducers, Inc. v. Deere & Co., 595 N.W.2d 751, 759 (Iowa 1999).  Findings of fact in an action at law are binding on review if they are supported by substantial evidence.  Iowa R. App. P. 14(f)(1).  “Evidence is substantial when a reasonable mind would accept it as adequate to reach a conclusion.”  Johnson v Dodgen, 451 N.W.2d 168, 171 (Iowa 1990).  Causation is a classic question of fact to be decided by a jury.  Only in an exceptional case may it be decided as a question of law.  Iowa R. App. P. 14(f)(10).  Whether a person had supervision or  control over another person, event or property, is another question of fact.  See Morgan v. Perlowski, 508 N.W.2d 724, 728 (Iowa 1993) (jury should decide whether defendant knew or should have known he had ability to control persons causing injury).

Under the immunity statute there is no liability for

[a]ny claim based upon an act or omission of an officer or employee of the municipality, whether by issuance of a permit, inspection, investigation, or otherwise . . . if the damage was caused by a third party, event or property not under the supervision or control of the municipality, unless the act or omission of the officer or employee constitutes […]


Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)