Kelley v. Story County Sheriff, No. 98-0030.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtMcGIVERIN, Chief Justice.
Citation611 N.W.2d 475
PartiesJim KELLEY, Appellant, v. STORY COUNTY SHERIFF, Story County, Appellees.
Decision Date01 June 2000
Docket NumberNo. 98-0030.

611 N.W.2d 475

Jim KELLEY, Appellant,
v.
STORY COUNTY SHERIFF, Story County, Appellees

No. 98-0030.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

June 1, 2000.


611 N.W.2d 477
Stephen Howell of Newbrough, Johnston, Brewer, Maddux & Krauth, L.L.P., Ames, for appellant

C. Roderick Reynolds, Assistant County Attorney, for appellees.

Considered en banc.

McGIVERIN, Chief Justice.

The main question here is whether damage to private property caused by law enforcement officers while executing an arrest warrant is a taking of private property under article I, section 18 of the Iowa Constitution, triggering the property owner's right to compensation. In a small claims action brought by plaintiff property owner, Jim Kelley, against defendants Story County and the Story County sheriff, the district court judge concluded that the damage caused to plaintiff's property did not amount to a taking of private property under article I, section 18 of the Iowa Constitution and that defendants were immune from tort liability under Iowa Code sections 670.4(3) and 670.12 (1997) of the Municipal Tort Claims Act.

We granted Kelley's application for discretionary review.

Upon our review, we affirm the decision of the district court.

I. Background facts and proceedings.

Plaintiff Jim Kelley owns residential real property in Story County, Iowa. Kelley leased the property to Penny Ball.

Late in the evening of May 19, 1997, officers from the Story County sheriff's office arrived at Penny Ball's residence to execute a warrant for the arrest of William James Vary. Vary was apparently a frequent guest or resident of that property. The officers knocked on the front door, identified themselves and demanded that they be admitted for purposes of making an arrest. When the door was not answered, the officers used force to enter, causing damage to two front doors in the residence. The officers found Vary in the residence and arrested him.

Thereafter, Kelley, the owner of the residence, filed an action against Story County and the Story County sheriff1 on the small claims docket of district court, see Iowa Code § 631.1, seeking compensation for the damage caused to the two doors when the officers entered the residence. The district associate judge concluded that the officers exercised due care under Iowa Code section 804.15 (authorizing law enforcement officer to use such force as is reasonably necessary to enter premises for purposes of making an arrest when officer has reasonable cause to believe that a person whom the officer is authorized to arrest is present) in entering the residence to arrest the suspect, and thus the county and sheriff were immune from liability under Iowa Code chapter 670. Kelley appealed that decision to a district court judge.

The district court judge affirmed, concluding that defendant county was immune from liability under section 670.4(3) (municipality is immune from liability for any claim based upon an act of an officer exercising due care in the execution of a statute), and that the sheriff, as an officer and employee of Story county, was not liable due to section 670.12, which removes personal liability against officers and employees of the county for claims which are exempted under section 670.4(3). The court also concluded that the damage caused to Kelley's property did not constitute a taking of private property under article I, section 18 of the Iowa Constitution and therefore Kelley was not entitled to compensation from defendants.

We granted Kelley's application for discretionary review. See Iowa Code § 631.16.

II. Standard of review.

On discretionary review of a small claims action, see Iowa Code

611 N.W.2d 478
§ 631.16, our standard of review depends on the nature of the case. Hyde v. Anania, 578 N.W.2d 647, 648 (Iowa 1998). If the action is a law case, we review the district judge's ruling on error. Id. Plaintiff Kelley's action against the county for compensation for damage caused to his property is an action at law. In such cases, we review the judgment of the district court for correction of errors at law. Iowa R.App.P. 4; Meier v. Sac & Fox Indian Tribe, 476 N.W.2d 61, 62 (Iowa 1991)

To the extent that Kelley raises constitutional claims, our review of the district court's decision on those issues is de novo. Simonson v. Iowa State Univ., 603 N.W.2d 557, 561 (Iowa 1999).

III. Plaintiff's takings claim.

A. Preliminary matters.

The district court characterized the damage caused to Kelley's property by the officers as tortious conduct, rather than a taking of private property under the county's powers of eminent domain, and concluded that the county and sheriff were therefore immune from liability under Iowa Code sections 670.4(3) and 670.12 of the Municipal Tort Claims Act.

Before addressing the county and sheriff's statutory immunity under Iowa Code sections 670.4(3) and 670.12, we must first address whether the damage caused to Kelley's property amounts to a taking of private property under article I, section 18 of the Iowa Constitution for which compensation must be paid, or whether the damage to plaintiff's property is more in the nature of tortious conduct, subject to the immunity provisions of Iowa Code chapter 670. We begin our analysis with this issue because a claim for compensation under the takings clause of article I, section 18 of the Iowa Constitution would seem to exist independent of any statutory tort immunity provisions. See Connolly v. Dallas County, 465 N.W.2d 875, 878 n. 4 (Iowa 1991) (stating that the municipal immunity provisions at issue in that case, see Iowa Code section 613A.4(7) and (8), now codified at section 670.4(7) and (8), when read with the definition of "tort," now codified at section 670.1(4), would violate article I, section 18 of the Iowa Constitution as they would appear to exempt the county from liability for constitutional torts, i.e., a takings claim).2

611 N.W.2d 479
B. Takings law generally

Article I, section 18 of the Iowa Constitution provides in pertinent part:

Eminent domain. Private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation first being made, or secured to be made to the owner thereof, as soon as the damages shall be assessed by a jury, who shall not take into consideration any advantages that may result to said owner on account of the improvement for which it is taken.

(Emphasis added.)

In Bormann v. Kossuth County Board of Supervisors, 584 N.W.2d 309, 315 (Iowa 1998), cert. denied, Girres v. Bormann, 525 U.S. 1172, 119 S.Ct. 1096, 143 L.Ed.2d 96 (1999), we set forth the following analysis concerning takings claims: (1) Is there a constitutionally protected private property interest at stake? (2) Has this private property interest been "taken" by the government for public use? and (3) If the protected property interest has been taken, has just compensation been paid to the owner?

The alleged taking of private property in this case is the physical damage caused to Kelley's property by the officers when they entered the property to execute the arrest warrant. Thus, the facts of this case do not fit neatly within the other categories of takings cases such as the physical invasion or occupation of private property, or the regulation of the use of property by statute or ordinance. See Bormann, 584 N.W.2d at 316-17 (noting difference between physical invasion and regulation of use of property).

C. Iowa authorities concerning the power of eminent domain and the exercise of police power.

In our cases, we have explained the distinction between the government's exercise of authority under the eminent domain and police power doctrines as follows:

"Eminent Domain" is the taking of private property for a public use for which compensation must be given. On the other hand "Police Power" controls and regulates the use of property for the public good for which no compensation need be made.

Kent v. Polk County Bd. of Supervisors, 391 N.W.2d 220, 226 (Iowa 1986) (quoting Hinrichs v. Iowa State Highway Comm'n, 260 Iowa 1115, 1126, 152 N.W.2d 248, 255 (1967)); see also Woodbury County Soil Conservation Dist. v. Ortner, 279 N.W.2d 276, 278 (Iowa 1979).

With respect to the exercise of police power for the public health and welfare, we have stated:

While the police power is very broad, and not capable of exact definition, it is not boundless, and, as a rule, is subject to constitutional limitations. Property may be destroyed under this power, without notice or opportunity to be heard, and, without compensation to the owner, to prevent the spread of contagious diseases, to stay the progress of a devastating fire, and in other exigencies, where the public needs protection or defense. Under this power, public nuisances may sometimes be abated; but, in all such cases, the necessity for summary action must exist, and one who would justify on the ground of necessity must be able to convince a jury that the occasion was present which authorized his act....

Waud v. Crawford, 160 Iowa 432, 434, 141 N.W. 1041, 1041 (1913) (emphasis added). As one commentator has explained:

[t]he term "regulatory taking" refers to situations in which the government exercises its "police powers" to restrict the use of land or other forms of property. This is often accomplished through implementation of land use planning, zoning and building codes. In contrast, a governmental entity exercises its eminent domain power or acts in an "enterprise capacity, where it takes unto itself private resources and uses them for the common good." Where the private
611 N.W.2d 480
landowner will not sell the land, the government entity seeks condemnation of the property and pays a fair purchase price to be determined in court. On the other hand, an inverse condemnation claim is sought by a landowner when the government fails to seek a condemnation action in court.3

Bormann, 584 N.W.2d at 317 (quoting John W. Shonkwiler & Terry Morgan, Land Use Litigation § 1.02, at 6...

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15 practice notes
  • Hamen v. Hamlin Cnty., #28671
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • February 10, 2021
    ...limited circumstances, seek compensation as a taking under the Iowa Constitution when law enforcement officers damage private property.5 611 N.W.2d 475 (Iowa 2000). The court determined the "point at which police power becomes so oppressive that it results in a taking is determined on ......
  • Eggleston v. Pierce County, No. 71296-4.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • March 6, 2003
    ...an act that causes loss of private property." Id. at 378, 41 Cal.Rptr.2d 658, 895 P.2d 900. Accord Kelley v. Story County Sheriff, 611 N.W.2d 475, 477 (Iowa 2000) (valid exercise of police power and not a compensable takings to breakdown doors of an innocent property owner to serve a w......
  • Mercer v. City of Cedar Rapids, No. C98-143MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • January 24, 2001
    ...IOWA CODE § 670.4(5), and I have seen no indication of evidence of a waiver of that protection. See also Kelley v. Story County Sheriff, 611 N.W.2d 475, 483-84 (Iowa 2000); Fettkether v. City of Readlyn, 595 N.W.2d 807, 813 (Iowa Ct.App.1999). Therefore, I have not given the plaintiff's pro......
  • Shannon v. Koehler, No. C08-4059-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • December 4, 2009
    ...municipality, whether or not the discretion is abused. IOWA CODE § 670.4(3) (2008) (emphasis added). In Kelley v. Story County Sheriff, 611 N.W.2d 475 (Iowa 2000), the Iowa Supreme Court found that a county was immune because the sheriff and his officers exercised "due care" under......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Hamen v. Hamlin Cnty., #28671
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • February 10, 2021
    ...limited circumstances, seek compensation as a taking under the Iowa Constitution when law enforcement officers damage private property.5 611 N.W.2d 475 (Iowa 2000). The court determined the "point at which police power becomes so oppressive that it results in a taking is determined on a cas......
  • Eggleston v. Pierce County, No. 71296-4.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • March 6, 2003
    ...an act that causes loss of private property." Id. at 378, 41 Cal.Rptr.2d 658, 895 P.2d 900. Accord Kelley v. Story County Sheriff, 611 N.W.2d 475, 477 (Iowa 2000) (valid exercise of police power and not a compensable takings to breakdown doors of an innocent property owner to serve a warran......
  • Mercer v. City of Cedar Rapids, No. C98-143MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • January 24, 2001
    ...IOWA CODE § 670.4(5), and I have seen no indication of evidence of a waiver of that protection. See also Kelley v. Story County Sheriff, 611 N.W.2d 475, 483-84 (Iowa 2000); Fettkether v. City of Readlyn, 595 N.W.2d 807, 813 (Iowa Ct.App.1999). Therefore, I have not given the plaintiff's pro......
  • Shannon v. Koehler, No. C08-4059-MWB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • December 4, 2009
    ...municipality, whether or not the discretion is abused. IOWA CODE § 670.4(3) (2008) (emphasis added). In Kelley v. Story County Sheriff, 611 N.W.2d 475 (Iowa 2000), the Iowa Supreme Court found that a county was immune because the sheriff and his officers exercised "due care" under § 670.4(3......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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