Judiciary Committee Report – week 9, 2017

SF 260 – Trespassers and premises liability
SF 275 – Termination of parental rights proceedings and safety concerns
SF 374 – State Public Defender bill
SF 376 – Asbestos bankruptcy trust claims and civil asbestos actions
SF 385 – Revised Uniform Athlete Agents Act
SF 401 – Sexual abuse civil protective orders
SF 413 – Statute of repose
SF 465 – Medical malpractice
SF 466 – Juror master list and shorthand reporters
SF 467 – Life insurance proceeds and felons
SF 468 – Stalking



Senate File 260 establishes that a possessor of real property owes no duty of care to a trespasser except to refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring them. The possessor must use reasonable care to avoid injuring the trespasser once the trespasser’s presence is known. There may be liability if a child trespasser is injured by a dangerous condition on the land that was known or should have been known to the possessor. This bill is purported to be codifying current case law relating to premises liability and trespassers. This bill is an effort to preempt courts from adopting a different liability standard regarding trespassers, one that would potentially impose increased liability upon possessors of land.
[3/3: 48-1 (Bisignano “no”; C. Johnson absent)]


Senate File 275 allows a petition for termination of parental rights to be filed in a county other than the county where the children, the guardian or custodian, the biological mother or the pregnant woman live, if there are valid safety concerns relating to the children or the petitioner. The venue must be in a county in the same judicial district that includes the county where the petition would have been required to be filed. The residence of the child and petitioner must be kept confidential by the court when the venue is changed for safety reasons.
[3/8: 49-0 (Chelgren absent)]


Senate File 374 is the State Public Defender policy bill that:

  • Amends the Code to conform to the Iowa Supreme Court decision in State v. Young to clarify that an indigent person is entitled to counsel when the crime they are charged with carries any possibility of confinement under the applicable statute.
  • Changes the language that allows the State Public Defender to contract with nonprofit organizations to provide legal services but requires that the nonprofits “employ” lawyers. Some nonprofits, such as the Innocence Project, use volunteer attorneys so the language that requires and entity to “employ” attorneys is deleted.
  • Allows the State Public Defender’s field offices to maintain conflict separation in a virtualized cloud environment. Current law requires maintenance of separate servers in 20 field offices, but the concern regarding conflict separation can be handled through virtual separation.
  • Allows State Public Defenders to report case expenses within a reasonable time after a case is closed rather than the 10 days under current law.
    [3/7: 49-0 (Bisignano absent)]


Senate File 376 sets out requirements for those filing claims for asbestos exposure with asbestos bankruptcy trust claims and filing civil suits with the court claiming asbestos exposure. The bill details what a plaintiff must file in each case, time limits for these filings and what is required to prove damage due to asbestos exposure that caused the plaintiff’s injury. The bill requires that a plaintiff who files a civil asbestos action disclose documents and information related to claims against any asbestos trust to a defendant within the latter of 30 days of filing an asbestos action or 30 days of the effective date of this legislation. The bill further provides that trust claim materials and governance documents are presumed to be relevant, authentic and admissible as evidence in an asbestos action. This bill will essentially limit recovery for damages that a plaintiff has experienced because of asbestos exposure that resulted in serious health problems and/or death.
[3/8: 27-22 (party-line, with Bertrand, D. Johnson voting “no”; Chelgren absent)]


Senate File 385 makes changes to Iowa’s Uniform Athlete Agents Act. The original Act was passed with the intention of ensuring that athlete agents adhere to certain requirements when recruiting athletes. The bill:

  • Expands the definition of “athlete agent” to include financial advisors, brokers and business services people who may contact student athletes.
  • Requires athlete agents to register with the Secretary of State, who is given authority to write rules to implement the Chapter.
  • Expands disclosure requirements for agents so that students and their parents know exactly who they are dealing with.
  • Strengthens the requirement that agents give notice of their involvement to educational institutions.
  • Increases penalties for an agent who violates the law.
  • Enhances remedies available to the student-athlete and education institutions aggrieved by agent non-compliance.
    [3/3: 50-0]


Senate File 401 provides a process for victims of sexual abuse to get a civil protective order that would require the perpetrator of the abuse to stay away from the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s residence, school or place of employment. Under current law, civil protective orders are available for victims of domestic abuse and victims of elder abuse. However, those who have suffered sexual abuse are not able to apply for a civil protective order. They can only get a no-contact order if there is a criminal prosecution, which does not always happen. The process provided for in Senate File 401 is similar to the process for civil protective orders for domestic abuse. Those protected pursuant to a domestic abuse civil protective order or a sexual abuse civil protective order can sign up for notifications from a victim notification system within the Victim Assistance Division of the Attorney General’s Office. The protected person and others who register will receive notification when the protective order is served, as well as notification at least 30 days prior to the expiration date of the order.

[3/8: 49-0 (Chelgren absent)]


Senate File 413 relates to a statute of repose for improvements to real property. The bill:

  • Maintains the statute of repose relating to nuclear power plants and interstate pipelines at 15 years.
  • Sets the statute of repose for residential construction at 10 years.
  • Maintains a statute of repose at 15 years when there is intentional misconduct or fraudulent concealment of an unsafe or defective condition.
  • Sets a statute of repose for all other improvements to real property at eight years.
    [3/8: 32-16 (party-line with Allen, Bowman, Kinney, McCoy voting “yes”; Bertrand, Chelgren absent)]



Senate File 465 relates to medical malpractice. The bill:

  • Places a cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases.
  • Requires that expert witnesses be trained in the area of practice for which they are testifying and are in good professional standing with their licensing board.
  • Requires a plaintiff within 90 days of filing a lawsuit to have a medical expert certify how the care in question failed to meet the appropriate standards of care.
  • Provides an affirmative defense to healthcare practitioners who use “evidence-based medical practice guidelines.”
  • Limits attorney contingency fee arrangements to 35 percent of the total award.
  • Expands the definition of healthcare provider for purposes of Iowa’s CANDOR chapter relating to open communications between patients and healthcare providers.

[3/2: 8-5 (party-line)]


Senate File 466 is a Judicial Branch bill. As amended in Committee, the bill addresses Iowa’s Jury Management System and governance of Iowa’s shorthand reporters.

  • Juries: The bill modernizes Iowa’s Jury Management system by eliminating the jury commission to draw juror lists. It clarifies the role and responsibilities of local jury managers; requires the master jury list to be updated electronically each year; and specifies that non-operator identification lists will be used in compiling the master jury list.
  • Shorthand reporters: The bill provides that the Iowa Supreme Court must supervise the Board of Examiners of Shorthand Reporters and have authority to review and modify and Board action. The Supreme Court may establish rules for supervision of the Board of Examiners of Shorthand Reporters. Further, the bill clarifies that if a shorthand reporter’s certification is placed in exempt status, the reporter may transcribe and certify a proceeding that was reported while the reporter was in active status, and the reporter will be subject to the jurisdiction of the Board of Examiners of Shorthand Reporters if circumstances require.
    [3/2: short form]


Senate File 467 relates to the receipt of life insurance proceeds by felons who have committed a violent crime against an insured. Under the bill, a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or other similar contract, who is convicted of  felonious assault, felonious sex abuse, attempted murder or kidnapping committed against the insured within the six months prior to the death of the insured is not entitled to the proceeds of the life insurance policy. The felony is not required to be related to the death of the insured. That is already covered by state law. Under the bill, the insured may affirm in a notarized writing that the beneficiary should receive any benefit under the life insurance policy despite the felony conviction. The Committee adopted an amendment to add human trafficking to the list of felonies committed against an insured that would prohibit receipt of life insurance proceeds.
[3/2: short form]


Senate File 468  relates to the criminal definition of stalking. The bill expands the definition of “course of conduct” for the crime of stalking to include repeatedly using technological devices to locate, listen to or watch another person without a legitimate purpose. In addition, the elements to prove stalking are modified: a person commits stalking when they purposely engage in conduct that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated or threatened. Under current law, a person must fear that the stalker intends to cause them or an immediate family member bodily injury or death. In addition, the bill requires that the stalker knows or should know that a reasonable person would feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated or threatened, or fear bodily injury or death by their conduct.
[3/2: short form]