In re S.P., 21-1825

CourtCourt of Appeals of Iowa
Writing for the CourtVAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.
PartiesIN THE MATTER OF S.P., ALLEGED TO BE SERIOUSLY MENTALLY IMPAIRED, S.P., Respondent-Appellant.
Docket Number21-1825
Decision Date17 November 2022

IN THE MATTER OF S.P., ALLEGED TO BE SERIOUSLY MENTALLY IMPAIRED, S.P., Respondent-Appellant.

No. 21-1825

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 17, 2022


Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Paul D. Miller, Judge.

S.P. appeals an order for involuntary hospitalization under Iowa Code chapter 229 (2021).

Janice B. Binder, Martelle, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Gretchen Kraemer, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.

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VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.

A mother had trouble managing her daily affairs, and her daughter was appointed as her guardian. The court of appeals affirmed the appointment but expanded a court-imposed requirement that the guardian seek judicial approval "of any change in her 'permanent residence to a nursing home, other secure facility, or secure portion of a facility that restricts the protected person's ability to leave or have visitors.'" In re Guardianship of S.M.P., No. 20-0946, 2021 WL 5105869, at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. Nov. 3, 2021) (quoting Iowa Code § 633.635(3)(a) (2020)).

Meanwhile, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) applied to have the mother involuntarily hospitalized. The mother was served with notice of the application. The mother's guardian was not. A hospitalization referee ordered the mother's commitment on an inpatient basis, followed by an alternative placement at another healthcare center. On appeal to the district court, the court concluded the mother was "seriously mentally impaired" and required continued treatment at the healthcare center. The mother appealed again, raising several arguments for reversal. We find her service argument dispositive.

Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.302 requires service of a notice to a "defendant, respondent, or other party against whom an action has been filed." Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.305(3), states service may be made "[u]pon any person adjudged incompetent but not confined in a state hospital for the mentally ill, by serving the conservator or guardian."

The court of appeals addressed rule 1.305(3) in In re M.W., No. 15-2213, 2016 WL 5931189, at * 4-5 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 12, 2016), vacated on other grounds by In re M.W., 894 N.W.2d 526 (Iowa 2017)). There, a ward involuntarily

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hospitalized at UIHC raised the failure to serve her guardian. M.W., 2016 WL 5931189, at *1-2. We found that, "[a]lthough the hospital had the contact information" for the ward's "legal guardian, neither the hospital nor the court notified her of the proceedings." Id. at *1. We determined the guardian "was entitled to notice." Id. at *5. Because she was not served and subsequent proceedings suggested her appearance and participation might have...

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