Smiley v. Twin City Beef Co., 2--56988

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtSubmitted to MOORE; MOORE
Citation236 N.W.2d 356
PartiesDonald V. SMILEY, Appellee, v. TWIN CITY BEEF COMPANY, an Iowa Corporation, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. 2--56988,2--56988
Decision Date17 December 1975

Page 356

236 N.W.2d 356
Donald V. SMILEY, Appellee,
TWIN CITY BEEF COMPANY, an Iowa Corporation, Appellant.
No. 2--56988.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
Dec. 17, 1975.

Page 357

Humphreys & Warner, Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

Page 358

Robert E. Ford, Cedar Rapids, for appellee.


MOORE, Chief Justice.

This appeal questions the appropriateness of a sanction striking defendant's counterclaim and entry of judgment for plaintiff for failure to comply with discovery provisions of the Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure.

Plaintiff, Donald V. Smiley, brought this action to recover delinquent rents under the terms of a written lease after defendant, Twin City Beef Company, had abandoned the leased premises. Defendant counterclaimed alleging breach of the lease terms.

On May 10, 1973, plaintiff-lessor filed eight interrogatories. Under rule 123, R.C.P., defendant had 14 days to either file answers or object to the propriety of plaintiff's interrogatories. Defendant on May 23 filed application for 30-day extension to answer the interrogatories. June 1 defendant was granted until June 11 to answer. Defendant failed to meet this deadline and did not request further extension. June 15 plaintiff filed application for orders striking defendant's pleadings, and for entry of default judgment in favor of plaintiff and against defendant on grounds of defendant's failure and refusal to file answers pursuant to the June 1, 1973 court order. Plaintiff's application was filed under the then existing terms of rules 134(b)(2) and 134(d), R.C.P.

On June 28 defendant did file answers to some of plaintiff's interrogatories. July 2 plaintiff filed an amendment to its application for orders compelling answers to interrogatories asserting that answers to 1, 2, 3 and 6 did not constitute answers 'in that the defendant did not file the requested information.' In addition, 'the defendant has failed and refused to answer Interrogatory No. 7.'

Hearing on plaintiff's application and motion was held July 3. The trial court on July 11 entered an order overruling plaintiff's application for entry on default judgment under rule 134 On condition that defendant file answers to each interrogatory, including number 7. The court directed each interrogatory be fully and separately answered not later than July 27, 1973.

Defendant did not file further answers as ordered on July 11. On July 30, on application of plaintiff, trial court struck defendant's counterclaim and entered judgment for the amount of plaintiff's claims based on plaintiff's June 15 application and the court's order of July 11.

On August 24 defendant moved to have plaintiff's judgment set aside. It alleged amended answers had been prepared but the wife of its president had mistakenly mailed them to defendant's Kansas City attorney.

After hearing, the trial court on November 20, 1973 filed a well-prepared detailed review of the record and denied defendant's motion to set aside the default judgment in favor of plaintiff. It included the following:

'The Court observes that the docket and the Court file in this case reflect that the only answers to interrogatories filed by the defendant were those filed on June 28, 1973, and the answers implicitly referred to in the various affidavits are not yet on file.

'The Court finds that the facts set forth in the affidavits do not support any mistake, inadvertance, surprise, excusable neglect or unavoidable casualty as required in Rule 236 of the Rules of Civil Procedure or the cases cited thereunder.'

Two primary issues are raised by defendant on this appeal, (1) Did trial court abuse its discretion by striking the counterclaim and entering judgment by default as a sanction for failure to file answers to interrogatories in accordance with the court order? and (2) Did trial court err in not finding that failure to file amended answers to

Page 359

interrogatories was due to mistake, excusable neglect or unavoidable casualty?

I. Defendant argues the July 30 ruling was ex parte and improper. It asserts plaintiff's July 30 application calling the court's attention to defendant's failure to file answers within the deadline set earlier by the court was a new motion which required notice and hearing under an amendment to rule 134 which took effect July 1, 1973.

Plaintiff asserts its July 30 application was used only to bring the fact of defendant's failure to comply with the July 11 order to the attention of the...

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22 cases
  • Eickelberg v. Deere & Co., 61344
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 21, 1979
    ...dangerous. Had trial court found a wilful failure to answer, such remedies would have been justified. Smiley v. Twin City Beef Co., 236 N.W.2d 356, 360 (Iowa 1975); Iowa R.Civ.P. 134(d). But, trial court found that the delay in answering was not wilful, and that defendant had complied with ......
  • Haumersen v. Ford Motor Co., 2-58043
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • August 31, 1977 review sanction orders under this rule. See Sandhorst v. Mauk's Transfer, Inc., 252 N.W.2d 393 (Iowa); Smiley v. Twin City Beef Co., 236 N.W.2d 356 (Iowa); Bos Lines, Inc. v. Phillips & Phillips, 226 N.W.2d 819 (Iowa); Zimmerman v. Purex Corp., Ltd., 256 Iowa 190, 125 N.W.2d 822. In each......
  • Sandhorst v. Mauk's Transfer, Inc., 2-57871
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 20, 1977
    ...unless there has been an abuse of discretion. Bradshaw v. Thompson, 6 Cir., 454 F.2d 75, 81; Smiley v. Twin Page 400 City Beef Co., Iowa, 236 N.W.2d 356, 360 and Careful examination of the record reveals Mauk's was at fault in not answering several requests for admissions prior to trial. Th......
  • R. E. Morris Investments, Inc. v. Lind, 64645
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 15, 1981
    ...Federal Practice and Procedure § 2283 (1970). Rule 134 is closely patterned after Fed.R.Civ.P. 37, see Smiley v. Twin City Beef Co., 236 N.W.2d 356, 359-60 (Iowa 1975), and decisions in the federal courts interpreting that rule are of persuasive authority. Cf. Folkner v. Collins, 249 Iowa 1......
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