Johnson v. American Leather Specialties Corp., No. C06-3073-MWB.

CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
Writing for the CourtMark W. Bennett
Citation578 F.Supp.2d 1154
PartiesVincent R. JOHNSON and Julie Johnson, Plaintiffs, v. AMERICAN LEATHER SPECIALTIES CORP. and Shopko Stores, Inc., Defendants.
Decision Date29 September 2008
Docket NumberNo. C06-3073-MWB.
578 F.Supp.2d 1154
Vincent R. JOHNSON and Julie Johnson, Plaintiffs,
v.
AMERICAN LEATHER SPECIALTIES CORP. and Shopko Stores, Inc., Defendants.
No. C06-3073-MWB.
United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Central Division.
September 29, 2008.

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Joseph L. Fitzgibbons, Ned A. Stockdale, Fitzgibbons Law Office, Estherville, IA, for Plaintiffs.

Timothy A. Clausen, Klass Law Firm, L.L.P., Sioux City, IA, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT

MARK W. BENNETT, District Judge.


 TABLE OF CONTENTS
                 I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND............................................................... 1158
                 A. Procedural Background................................................................. 1158
                 B. Factual Background.................................................................... 1159
                 II. LEGAL ANALYSIS............................................................................ 1160
                 A. Summary Judgment Standards............................................................ 1160
                 B. Choice Of Law......................................................................... 1162
                 C. Choice Of Law Rules................................................................... 1165
                 D. The § 145(2) "Contacts".......................................................... 1166
                 1. The place where injury occurred.................................................... 1166
                 2. The place where conduct causing the injury occurred................................ 1167
                 3. Place of domicile, residence, incorporation, or business........................... 1168
                 4. Place where the relationship was centered.......................................... 1168
                 5. Summary of § 145(2) contacts.................................................. 1168
                 E. The § 6 Factors.................................................................. 1169
                 1. Needs of the interstate and international systems.................................. 1169
                 2. Relevant policies of the forum and other interested states......................... 1170
                 3. Ease of determination and application of the law................................... 1171
                 4. Other § 6(2) factors.......................................................... 1171
                 a. Protection of justified expectations............................................ 1171
                 b. Basic underlying policies....................................................... 1171
                 c. Certainty, predictability and uniformity of result.............................. 1171
                 F. Conclusion As To Conflict Of Law...................................................... 1172
                 G. Federal Constitutionality of Iowa Code § 613.18(1)............................... 1172
                 1. Overview of the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause................................... 1172
                 2. Cognizable property interest....................................................... 1173
                 3. Taking of property................................................................. 1174
                 H. Iowa's Inalienable Rights Clause...................................................... 1176
                 I. Application Of Iowa Code § 613.18(1)............................................. 1177
                

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III. CONCLUSION................................................................................ 1178
                
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
A. Procedural Background

On November 6, 2006, plaintiffs Vincent R. Johnson and Julie Johnson (collectively "the Johnsons" unless otherwise indicated) filed a complaint against defendants American Leather Specialties Corp. ("American Leather") and Shopko Stores, Inc. ("Shopko") alleging eight causes of action related to injuries sustained by plaintiff Vincent Johnson when a dog leash failed, causing the leash's cord to snap back, striking Vincent in the left eye. The eight causes of action asserted are for: strict products liability against American Leather (Count II); breach of express warranty against both Shopko and American Leather (Count III); breach of implied warranty against American Leather (Count IV); negligent design and manufacture against American Leather1 (Count V); negligent distribution against American Leather (Count VI)2; negligence against Shopko (Count VII)3; and, loss of consortium against both Shopko and American Leather (Count IX).4

The Johnsons' Complaint alleges that Vincent purchased the dog leash from defendant Shopko and that defendant American Leather distributed the leash under the trademark, "Canine Country." Compl. at ¶ 4. The Complaint alleges that this court has subject matter jurisdiction by virtue of diversity of citizenship of the parties, 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

Defendants American Leather and Shopko have filed a motion for partial summary judgment in which they seek the dismissal of all of plaintiffs' claims, except

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for plaintiffs' claim that defendants were negligent in failing to place suitable warnings on the leash, on the ground that defendants are immune from such claims under Iowa Code § 613.18(1). Plaintiffs have filed a timely response to defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. Plaintiffs assert that Minnesota state law rather than Iowa state law should govern in this case and that, therefore, Iowa Code § 613.18(1) has no relevance to their claims. Plaintiffs, alternatively, assert that if Iowa state law does govern, that application of § 613.18(1) constitutes an unconstitutional taking in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, or is an unconstitutional imposition on plaintiffs' inalienable rights under Article I, Section 1 of the Iowa State Constitution.

B. Factual Background

The summary judgment record reveals that the following facts are undisputed. Plaintiffs Vincent R. Johnson and Julie Johnson are married. The Johnsons are residents of Kossuth County and citizens of the State of Iowa. Defendant Shopko's principal place of business is in the State of Wisconsin. Defendant American Leather is a distributor of pet accessories, and is incorporated and has its principal place of business in the State of New York. Shopko sold pet products distributed by American Leather.

Julie purchased a 26 foot retractable Canine County dog leash, product number 18627, in late March of 2005, from a Shopko store in Fairmont, Minnesota. The leash was used for the first time on Sunday, April 3, 2005, by Vincent without incident. The leash was used for a second time on the morning of April 4, 2005, by Julie, again without incident. On the evening of April 4, 2005, the leash was used for a third time when the Johnsons were walking their 60 pound Labrador Retriever on the county road near their home in rural Kossuth County, Iowa. The leash was extended so that the dog could walk in the ditch. The dog was tugging on the leash when it snapped, causing the cord to recoil and hit Vincent in the left eye.

The dog leash Julie purchased was designed by J.J. Hao and manufactured by Jiangsu Namkwong Industries, Ltd. ("Jiangsu"), 88 Chengebei Wenjing Road, Jiangning Nanjing, China, specifically for American Leather. Jiangsu and J.J. Hao have no known contacts with or presence in the United States. Jiangsu sold the leash at a cost of $10.621 per dozen, or 88 cents per leash.

Defendant American Leather did not assemble, design or manufacture the leash. American Leather holds itself out to the public as a manufacturer of high quality and dependable collars, leashes, harnesses, and accessories for dogs and cats. Defendant American Leather purchased the leash through Ultra Marketing Corp., a marketing representative of manufacturer Jiangsu. Defendant American Leather marketed the leash under the registered trademark "Canine County." Defendant American Leather distributed the leash to Shopko, who, in turn, sold it to Vincent. American Leather sold the leash to Shopko for $2.99 each. Shopko sold the leash to Julie for $6.99. Prior to its distribution and sale of the leash, American Leather did not perform a product safety review of the 26 foot Canine County retractable leash, or any other retractable leash. American Leather does not have a product safety review and/or a safety test report by any independent or third-party that relates to the 26 foot Canine County retractable leash, or any other retractable leash. Neither defendant American Leather nor defendant Shopko altered or modified the leash in any manner prior to sale. The leash reached the Johnsons in the exact same condition and packaging as

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it was received by American Leather from the manufacturer.

It is alleged that at the time of its sale to American Leather and at the time of its sale by Shopko to Julie, the leash was defective in design and manufacture which allowed the cord to be severed by an unprotected shear point while the leash was being used in its intended manner.

II. LEGAL ANALYSIS
A. Summary Judgment Standards

Motions for summary judgment essentially "define disputed facts and issues and ... dispose of unmeritorious claims [or defenses]." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1982, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986) ("One of the principal purposes of the summary judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses...."). Any party may move for summary judgment regarding "all or any part" of the claims asserted in a case. FED R. CIV. P. 56(a), (b) (allowing a claimant to move for summary judgment "at any time after the expiration of 20 days from the commencement of the action or after service of a motion for summary judgment by the adverse party," and allowing a defending party to move for summary judgment "at any time"). Summary judgment is only appropriate when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if...

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8 practice notes
  • Stults v. Symrise, Inc., No. C 11–4077–MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • 24 Diciembre 2013
    ...of Pigorsch ex rel. Martin v. York College, 734 F.Supp.2d 704, 711 (N.D.Iowa 2010);. Johnson v. American Leather Specialties Corp., 578 F.Supp.2d 1154, 1162 (N.D.Iowa 2008); John Morrell & Co. v. Halbur, 476 F.Supp.2d 1061, 1074–1075 (N.D.Iowa 2007); Jones ex rel. Jones v. Winnebago Indus. ......
  • EState of Pigorsch ex rel. Martin v. York Coll., No. C09-4037-MWB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • 18 Agosto 2010
    ...to specific common-law and statutory claims in a diversity action a number of times. See Johnson v. American Leather Specialties Corp., 578 F.Supp.2d 1154 (N.D.Iowa 2008); John Morrell & Co. v. Halbur, 476 F.Supp.2d 1061, 1074-1075 (N.D.Iowa 2007); Jones ex rel. Jones v. Winnebago Indus., I......
  • Pounders v. Enserch E&C, Inc., No. CV–12–0173–PR.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • 21 Agosto 2013
    ...the state with the dominant interest in the determination of the particular issue”); see also Johnson v. Am. Leather Specialties Corp., 578 F.Supp.2d 1154, 1171 (N.D.Iowa 2008) (when § 145's contacts establish that a state's interest is dominant, the § 6 principles, which consider and compa......
  • Advance Brands LLC v. Alkar-Rapidpak Inc., No. 08-CV-4057-LRR
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • 10 Mayo 2011
    ...claims, the court must use the choice-of-law rules of the forum state, in this case, Iowa." Johnson v. Am. Leather Specialties Corp., 578 F. Supp. 2d 1154, Page 211165 (N.D. Iowa 2008). Iowa courts "'follow the Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws's most significant relationship methodo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Stults v. Symrise, Inc., No. C 11–4077–MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • 24 Diciembre 2013
    ...of Pigorsch ex rel. Martin v. York College, 734 F.Supp.2d 704, 711 (N.D.Iowa 2010);. Johnson v. American Leather Specialties Corp., 578 F.Supp.2d 1154, 1162 (N.D.Iowa 2008); John Morrell & Co. v. Halbur, 476 F.Supp.2d 1061, 1074–1075 (N.D.Iowa 2007); Jones ex rel. Jones v. Winnebago Indus. ......
  • EState of Pigorsch ex rel. Martin v. York Coll., No. C09-4037-MWB
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • 18 Agosto 2010
    ...to specific common-law and statutory claims in a diversity action a number of times. See Johnson v. American Leather Specialties Corp., 578 F.Supp.2d 1154 (N.D.Iowa 2008); John Morrell & Co. v. Halbur, 476 F.Supp.2d 1061, 1074-1075 (N.D.Iowa 2007); Jones ex rel. Jones v. Winnebago Indus., I......
  • Pounders v. Enserch E&C, Inc., No. CV–12–0173–PR.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • 21 Agosto 2013
    ...the state with the dominant interest in the determination of the particular issue”); see also Johnson v. Am. Leather Specialties Corp., 578 F.Supp.2d 1154, 1171 (N.D.Iowa 2008) (when § 145's contacts establish that a state's interest is dominant, the § 6 principles, which consider and compa......
  • Advance Brands LLC v. Alkar-Rapidpak Inc., No. 08-CV-4057-LRR
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • 10 Mayo 2011
    ...claims, the court must use the choice-of-law rules of the forum state, in this case, Iowa." Johnson v. Am. Leather Specialties Corp., 578 F. Supp. 2d 1154, Page 211165 (N.D. Iowa 2008). Iowa courts "'follow the Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws's most significant relationship methodo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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