Rank v. Kuhn, No. 46664.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtGARFIELD
Citation236 Iowa 854,20 N.W.2d 72
Decision Date16 October 1945
Docket NumberNo. 46664.
PartiesRANK v. KUHN.

236 Iowa 854
20 N.W.2d 72

RANK
v.
KUHN.

No. 46664.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Oct. 16, 1945.


Appeal from District Court, Webster County; H. E. Fry, Judge.

Law action for damages for alienating the affections of plaintiff's husband. Trial to the court. Judgment for plaintiff for $2700. Defendant appeals.

Affirmed.

[20 N.W.2d 73]

Alan Loth, of Fort Dodge, for appellant.

Paul E. McCarville, of Fort Dodge, for appellee.


GARFIELD, Justice.

Plaintiff and Francis Rank were married September 10, 1930. They have a daughter, eleven. Defendant, age 42, a widow, is a sister of Francis' mother. Francis is 34. Defendant owns a life estate in a quarter section farm 3 1/2 miles east of Fort Dodge where she lives. In April, 1942, defendant leased a part of the farm to Francis' brother, Louis, who occupied the small tenant house on the farm for about 11 months. In the fall of 1942, a controversy arose between defendant and Louis which resulted in the commencement of an ejectment suit against him by defendant. Louis and family were ejected from the farm in March, 1943. Plaintiff's husband, Francis, took the side of defendant in this controversy and a fist fight took place between the two brothers.

While Louis was occupying the tenant house on the farm, Francis and his family were living in Fort Dodge. Shortly after Louis left the tenant house, Francis, his wife and daughter moved in under an arrangement whereby Francis was to operate defendant's farm. Francis and his wife separated July 11, 1943, and the latter brought this action against defendant for alienation of her husband's affections. Following trial to the court without a jury, judgment for plaintiff for $2700 was entered. Defendant has appealed.

I. Trial commenced September 7, 1943. Rule 179(a), Rules of Civil Procedure, effective July 4, 1943, provides: ‘The Court trying an issue of fact without a jury * * * shall find the facts in writing, separately stating its conclusions of law; and direct an appropriate judgment.’ Apparently in an attempt to comply with this new rule, the court filed its ‘Findings, Conclusions and Judgment’ which fills about eight pages of the record. Defendant's first contention is that the findings do not support the judgment because there is no finding that defendant intended to

[20 N.W.2d 74]

alienate the affections of plaintiff's husband. The contention is without merit.

The court's findings state in part:

‘After the most careful consideration of this case, I am of the opinion that plaintiff, without fault on her part, has been done a great injustice, and I cannot avoid the conclusion that defendant was guilty of such misconduct in her associations with plaintiff's husband as to be the main cause of the final break-up between plaintiff and her husband. * * * The fact that plaintiff's husband was faithless to his wife and was blamable along with defendant for the wrong done plaintiff, does not relieve defendant of her liability. * * *

‘From the foregoing considerations my findings of fact and conclusions of law are: 1) Plaintiff has established her charge that defendant was guilty of wrongful association and intimacies with plaintiff's husband during the time in controversy. 2) That defendant knew her associations with plaintiff's husband was causing trouble and discord between them. 3) As a result of defendant's misconduct in the respects charged plaintiff has lost the affection, care and companionship of her husband. * * *

‘Upon the basis of the foregoing findings my conclusion is that plaintiff is entitled to recover damages against defendant for the injuries sustained.’

It is well settled that findings of a trial court are to be broadly and liberally construed, rather than narrowly or technically. In case of doubt or ambiguity, findings will be construed to uphold, rather than to defeat, the judgment. In re Estate of Evans, 228 Iowa 908, 918, 291 N.W. 460; 5 C.J.S., Appeal and Error, § 1656b, p. 686; 3 Am.Jur. 462, 463, sections 897, 898; 64 C.J. 1272, section 1149. Wherever, from the facts expressly found, others may fairly be inferred which will support the judgment, such inference will be drawn. 64 C.J. 1279, section 1156. See also 5 C.J.S., Appeal and Error, § 1656e, p. 696. We have held that in construing a decree the intent of the court must be determined from all parts of the instrument and effect given to that which is clearly implied as well as to that which is expressed. Weir & Russell Lbr. Co. v. Kempf, 234 Iowa 450, 12 N.W.2d 857, 860.

It is frequently said that an action for alienation of affections is for an intentional tort (Heisler v. Heisler, 151 Iowa 503, 506, 131 N.W. 676) and will lie only where the spouse's affections are purposely or intentionally alienated. See 27 Am.Jur. 129, section 527; 42 C.J.S., Husband and Wife, § 662, p. 317; 3 Restatement of Torts, section 683. If it were necessary, in order to support the judgment, to hold that a finding of such purpose or intent is fairly to be inferred from the court's findings ‘of wrongful association and intimacies' and ‘misconduct,’ we believe we would be justified in so doing. But we think the findings as made are sufficient.

The three essential elements of such a cause of action as this are: 1) Wrongful conduct of the defendant; 2) loss of affection or consortium; and 3) causal connection between such conduct and loss. 27 Am.Jur. 125, section 523. An actual intent to alienate is not necessary if defendant's conduct is inherently wrong and tends to and does have the effect complained of. Bailey v. Kennedy, 148 Iowa 715, 716, 126 N.W. 181 (Evans, J.); 42 C.J.S., Husband and Wife, § 662, p. 317. See also Welty v. Sparks, 179 Iowa 1390, 1391, 1393, 162 N.W. 614 (Weaver, J.), where it is said it must appear that defendant ‘willfully, wrongfully, or intentionally, induced such alienation.’ We there held the evidence ‘in no manner tends to show that such alienation, if any, was chargeable to any wrongful act done or wrongful influence exercised by the defendant.’

In Smith v. Rice, 178 Iowa 673, 677, 678, 160 N.W. 6, 7, we say that plaintiff must prove ‘such loss (of affections) was caused by the wrongful conduct and inducement of the defendant.’ In Pooley v. Dutton, 165 Iowa 745, 750, 147 N.W. 154, 156, it is said that defendants can be made liable only by a showing the loss of affections ‘has been caused by wrongful and malicious interference on [defendants'] part.’ In Busenbark v. Busenbark, 150 Iowa 7, 17, 18, 129 N.W. 332, we say in effect that plaintiff must prove defendants' ‘wrongdoing’ caused the loss of affection. See also Price v. Price, 91 Iowa 693, 698, 60 N.W. 202,29 L.R.A. 150, 51 Am.St.Rep. 360.

In this connection, we may observe that after the court's findings were filed defendant filed a motion under Rule 179(b), Rules of Civil Procedure, asking...

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27 practice notes
  • Glatstein v. Grund, No. 47907
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 8, 1952
    ...for submission to the jury. Of course it is our duty to view the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff. Rank v. Kuhn, 236 Iowa 854, 859, 20 N.W.2d 72, 75. See also Stilwell v. Stilwell, 186 Iowa 177, 189, 172 N.W. 177. There is little doubt of its sufficiency when viewed in such......
  • Allen v. Lindeman, No. 52317
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 7, 1967
    ...243 Iowa 541, 51 N.W.2d 162, 36 A.L.R.2d 531. In discussing alienation of affections as a cause of action we have said: 'In Rank v. Kuhn, 236 Iowa 854, 857, 20 N.W.2d 72, 74, we stated the essential elements of these causes of action: '(1) wrongful conduct of the defendant; (2) loss of affe......
  • Bearbower v. Merry, No. 60734
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 17, 1978
    ...interference disclosed by our adjudicated decisions. See, e. g., Glatstein v. Grund, 243 Iowa 541, 51 N.W.2d 162 (1952); Rank v. Kuhn, 236 Iowa 854, 20 N.W.2d 72 (1945). This leaves an inadequate sampling from which to conclude otherwise viable marriages are immune to such abnormal We furth......
  • Giltner v. Stark, No. 56168
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 26, 1974
    ...is the exclusive right of one spouse to sexual intercourse with the other. In support of the foregoing statements of law see Rank v. Kuhn, 236 Iowa 854, 857--858, 20 N.W.2d 72, 74-75; Kiger v. Meehan, 253 Iowa 746, 750, 113 N.W.2d 743, 746; Castner v. Wright, 256 Iowa 638, 643, 127 N.W.2d 5......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
27 cases
  • Glatstein v. Grund, No. 47907
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 8, 1952
    ...for submission to the jury. Of course it is our duty to view the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiff. Rank v. Kuhn, 236 Iowa 854, 859, 20 N.W.2d 72, 75. See also Stilwell v. Stilwell, 186 Iowa 177, 189, 172 N.W. 177. There is little doubt of its sufficiency when viewed in such......
  • Allen v. Lindeman, No. 52317
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 7, 1967
    ...243 Iowa 541, 51 N.W.2d 162, 36 A.L.R.2d 531. In discussing alienation of affections as a cause of action we have said: 'In Rank v. Kuhn, 236 Iowa 854, 857, 20 N.W.2d 72, 74, we stated the essential elements of these causes of action: '(1) wrongful conduct of the defendant; (2) loss of affe......
  • Bearbower v. Merry, No. 60734
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 17, 1978
    ...interference disclosed by our adjudicated decisions. See, e. g., Glatstein v. Grund, 243 Iowa 541, 51 N.W.2d 162 (1952); Rank v. Kuhn, 236 Iowa 854, 20 N.W.2d 72 (1945). This leaves an inadequate sampling from which to conclude otherwise viable marriages are immune to such abnormal We furth......
  • Giltner v. Stark, No. 56168
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 26, 1974
    ...is the exclusive right of one spouse to sexual intercourse with the other. In support of the foregoing statements of law see Rank v. Kuhn, 236 Iowa 854, 857--858, 20 N.W.2d 72, 74-75; Kiger v. Meehan, 253 Iowa 746, 750, 113 N.W.2d 743, 746; Castner v. Wright, 256 Iowa 638, 643, 127 N.W.2d 5......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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