Koehler v. Koehler, No. 49021

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtGARFIELD
Citation248 Iowa 144,79 N.W.2d 791
PartiesPhyliss KOEHLER, Appellee, v. Ed KOEHLER and Esther Koehler, Appellants.
Decision Date11 December 1956
Docket NumberNo. 49021

Page 791

79 N.W.2d 791
248 Iowa 144
Phyliss KOEHLER, Appellee,
v.
Ed KOEHLER and Esther Koehler, Appellants.
No. 49021.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Dec. 11, 1956.

Page 792

Murphy & Murphy, Sumner, and R. Eldon Laird, Waverly, for appellants.

O'Brien & O'Brien, Oelwein, and Sweet, Sager & Engelbrecht, Waverly, for appellee.

GARFIELD, Justice.

This is a law action against the parents of plaintiff's husband for damages for alienating his affections. From a verdict and judgment for plaintiff for $8,500 defendants have appealed. The only question we find it necessary to consider is the sufficiency of the evidence to support recovery.

In this connection plaintiff is entitled to have taken as true the evidence adduced by her and to have the benefit of the strongest inferences reasonably to be drawn therefrom. Stilwell v. Stilwell, 186 Iowa 177, 189, 172 N.W. 177. Perhaps this is merely one way of saying it is our duty to view the testimony in the light most favorable to plaintiff. See Glatstein v. Grund, 243 Iowa 541, 545, 51 N.W.2d 162, 166, 36 A.L.R.2d 531.

Phyliss Rogers, a schoolteacher then 22, married Stanley Koelher, a plumber's helper then 25, September 7, 1952, after a [248 Iowa 146] courtship of a year and an engagement of five months. Three days after the wedding she was taken to a hospital in Waterloo and placed in the care of a psychiatrist. After five weeks there she was removed to a sanitarium in Dubuque for four months. During this period plaintiff

Page 793

was upset emotionally and mentally. From the time Phyliss was taken to Waterloo she and Stanley never lived together.

During the April and May before their marriage plaintiff and Stanley engaged in four acts of intercourse. They never had intercourse thereafter. Plaintiff thought she was pregnant in May, told Stanley of it and they agreed they would not tell their parents about it. Plaintiff's baby was born the following February 3 (1953) while plaintiff was still a patient in Dubuque.

Stanley's parents, defendants herein, approved the engagement and seemed very happy about it. They owned a house in Sumner in which it was planned the newlyweds should live at least a few months. (Defendants lived on a farm.) The plan never materialized.

The first act of either defendant of which plaintiff complains occurred at the wedding rehearsal 48 hours before the church wedding. Stanley's father said to plaintiff and Stanley, 'Don't make a damned fool of yourselves coming down the aisle.' Following this remark plaintiff was not happy. 'I felt awful, wondering if I was going to do the right thing.' Preceding the remark those at the rehearsal were laughing, joking and 'cutting up,' but plaintiff insists the statement was not made in a joking manner.

Twenty-four hours after the wedding defendants gave a dance for the wedding party and many others. Plaintiff dressed in defendants' home for the dance. The question apparently arose whether she should wear her veil. Stanley's mother said, 'If you are pregnant you don't wear that veil. If you wear it that says you are not pregnant.' Plaintiff replied, 'Stanley and I came to each other in white. My veil goes on.' And plaintiff proceeded to wear her veil to the dance. This talk did not occur in Stanley's presence.

This statement of Stanley's mother made plaintiff very nervous and weak. She may have assumed from it that Stanley, in violation of his agreement, told his mother plaintiff was pregnant. [248 Iowa 147] In any event plaintiff felt Mrs. Koehler knew of the pregnancy. Stanley claims he did not know plaintiff was pregnant until he learned it from a doctor one to two weeks after she was taken to the Waterloo hospital. Plaintiff was much upset at the dance and danced but little. Defendants admit Mrs. Koehler made a remark like that testified to by plaintiff and her mother but defendants say it was made about a month before the wedding and in a joking manner.

After the dance the newlyweds started in Stanley's car for a tourist cabin at Oelwein to spend the night. On the way there a 'stink bomb' exploded in the automobile. This caused some damage to the car which they had repaired. After starting for Oelwein again a second such bomb exploded in Stanley's car. These two explosions further upset plaintiff. There is no evidence defendants had anything to do with placing these bombs in the automobile. Some prankster evidently did it.

Plaintiff remembers nothing from the time she went to sleep in the Oelwein cabin late that night until nearly two months later when she was in the Dubuque sanitarium. Early the morning after the dance plaintiff had the proprietor of the cabins telephone her mother and uncle to come there. Plaintiff had made her home with them--she never knew her father. When the mother and uncle arrived at Oelwein they found plaintiff very nervous and upset. They all, including Stanley, then went to the uncle's farm home.

When plaintiff failed to 'snap out of it' the family doctor examined her, found her about four and one-half months pregnant, suffering from 'an anxiety neurosis due to an embarrassment.' The doctor testifies, 'It is my belief this stress and strain was caused by pregnancy before marriage.' He recommended plaintiff be taken to the Waterloo hospital and placed in the care of a psychiatrist. Defendants' family doctor also saw plaintiff and joined in this

Page 794

recommendation. It was decided to take plaintiff to this hospital the third night after the wedding.

Plaintiff's mother and uncle and Stanley's father and younger brother accompanied plaintiff to Waterloo. Stanley did not go. His father said he was 'in no shape to go.' Stanley had had polio in 1946 and suffered a rather serious temporary injury [248 Iowa 148] about three weeks before the wedding. Stanley visited the Waterloo hospital several times during the five weeks his wife was there. Some of the times he was not permitted to see her because of her condition. Defendants made four trips to Waterloo to see plaintiff but were not allowed to see her on any occasion.

Plaintiff's mother and uncle felt plaintiff was not making progress at Waterloo and it was decided to take her to the Dubuque sanitarium. Stanley and his younger brother accompanied plaintiff's mother and uncle when they took plaintiff to Dubuque where, as stated, she was confined four months. Stanley never visited his wife in Dubuque. When plaintiff was about to be discharged from the sanitarium Stanley said he had no place for her. When asked what he wanted done with the baby he told plaintiff's mother to arrange for its care.

Plaintiff's mother paid the bills to the Waterloo hospital and Dubuque sanitarium although plaintiff's insurance paid $218 of the total amount. The doctor bills are unpaid. Stanley, through his attorney, paid the 'baby fold' in...

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5 practice notes
  • Bearbower v. Merry, No. 60734
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 17, 1978
    ...Frank v. Berry, 128 Iowa 223, 103 N.W. 358 (1905). A defense of privilege exists in certain circumstances. Koehler v. Koehler, 248 Iowa 144, 79 N.W.2d 791 The only defenses to an action for criminal conversation are plaintiff's consent and the statute of limitations. See Stumm v. Hummel, 39......
  • Allen v. Lindeman, No. 53156
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 14, 1969
    ...and tends to and does have the effect complained of. Rank v. Kuhn, 236 Iowa 854, 857, 20 N.W.2d 72, 74, and citations; Koehler v. Koehler, 248 Iowa 144, 151, 79 N.W.2d 791, 796 and Kiger v. Meehan, 253 Iowa 746, 750, 113 N.W.2d 743, In Rank v. Kuhn, supra, the court failed to make a specifi......
  • Castner v. Wright, No. 51322
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 8, 1964
    ...and tends to and does have the effect complained of. Rank v. Kuhn, 236 Iowa 854, 857, 20 N.W.2d 72, 74, and citations; Koehler v. Koehler, 248 Iowa 144, 151, 79 N.W.2d 791, 796; Kiger v. Meehan, 253 Iowa 746, 750, 113 N.W.2d 743, In the absence of evidence to the contrary it is presumed[256......
  • Hall v. Town of Keota, Nos. 48956
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 11, 1956
    ...supra, the rule was in fact held to apply to one of the defendants, who had caused to be erected a number of circus seats which collapsed [248 Iowa 144] and injured the plaintiff. The seats were on a public sidewalk, and might have been interfered with or damaged by any passerby; yet we sai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Bearbower v. Merry, No. 60734
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 17, 1978
    ...Frank v. Berry, 128 Iowa 223, 103 N.W. 358 (1905). A defense of privilege exists in certain circumstances. Koehler v. Koehler, 248 Iowa 144, 79 N.W.2d 791 The only defenses to an action for criminal conversation are plaintiff's consent and the statute of limitations. See Stumm v. Hummel, 39......
  • Allen v. Lindeman, No. 53156
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 14, 1969
    ...and tends to and does have the effect complained of. Rank v. Kuhn, 236 Iowa 854, 857, 20 N.W.2d 72, 74, and citations; Koehler v. Koehler, 248 Iowa 144, 151, 79 N.W.2d 791, 796 and Kiger v. Meehan, 253 Iowa 746, 750, 113 N.W.2d 743, In Rank v. Kuhn, supra, the court failed to make a specifi......
  • Castner v. Wright, No. 51322
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 8, 1964
    ...and tends to and does have the effect complained of. Rank v. Kuhn, 236 Iowa 854, 857, 20 N.W.2d 72, 74, and citations; Koehler v. Koehler, 248 Iowa 144, 151, 79 N.W.2d 791, 796; Kiger v. Meehan, 253 Iowa 746, 750, 113 N.W.2d 743, In the absence of evidence to the contrary it is presumed[256......
  • Hall v. Town of Keota, Nos. 48956
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 11, 1956
    ...supra, the rule was in fact held to apply to one of the defendants, who had caused to be erected a number of circus seats which collapsed [248 Iowa 144] and injured the plaintiff. The seats were on a public sidewalk, and might have been interfered with or damaged by any passerby; yet we sai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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