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PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2006 7:11 am 
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Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1896288 (Table) (Iowa App.)
Ross v. Thousand Adventures of Iowa, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Iowa.
Tony ROSS, Brian and Toni Hammond, George and Nadine Hess, Don and Donna Gerbeling, Individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
THOUSAND ADVENTURES OF IOWA, INC., Thousand Adventures, Inc., Allstate Financial, n/k/a Harbourton Financial Corporation, Travel America, Inc., Western American Bank, N.A., n/k/a First National Bank of the Mid-Cities, Liberty Bank, 900 Capital and Travelers Acceptance Corp., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 04-1546.

July 12, 2006.

Background: Purchasers of campground memberships brought an action against mutual savings bank, which had been assigned campground membership purchasers' installment contracts, for failure to fulfill contractual obligations. The District Court, Lee (North) County, Cynthia Danielson, J., dismissed the claim with prejudice. Purchasers appealed.

Holdings: The Court of Appeals, Sackett, C.J., held that:
(1) Iowa lacked personal jurisdiction over nonresident bank;
(2) the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) holder rule did not grant Iowa personal jurisdiction over non-resident bank; and
(3) the Iowa Consumer Credit Code did not grant Iowa personal jurisdiction over non-resident bank.
Affirmed as modified.

Heard by SACKETT, C.J., and HUITINK and MILLER, JJ.

*1 Plaintiff's-appellants,FN1 purchasers of campground memberships via retail installment contracts from Thousand Adventures, Inc. (TAI), appealed the district court's August 27, 2004 order dismissing with prejudice for lack of personal jurisdiction their claim against defendant-appellee, Liberty Bank (Liberty). Our supreme court held the August 27, 2004 order was not a final judgment appealable as a matter of right, but granted permission for the case to proceed as an interlocutory appeal.FN2 The case was transferred to our court on April 11, 2006.

FN1. Plaintiffs brought the action individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated persons.

FN2. On November 4, 2005, the supreme court, on its own motion, raised the issue of its jurisdiction to hear the case as a matter of right due to the lack of a final judgment. The supreme court ordered the parties to submit statements addressing whether the ruling in question was an appealable final judgment. On March 8, 2006, after considering the parties' statements, the court held there was not a final judgment appealable as a matter of right, but granted that the appeal could proceed as an interlocutory appeal. Thus, the court indicated the notice of appeal and all subsequent documents filed by plaintiffs would be treated as an application for interlocutory appeal pursuant to Iowa Rule of Appellate Procedure 6.2.

Plaintiffs obtained a judgment against TAI for failing to fulfill contract obligations. TAI then filed for bankruptcy protection. Liberty, a mutual savings bank formed under the laws of Connecticut, had previously extended to TAI a $4.5 million revolving line of credit. As security TAI assigned certain member-borrowers' installment contracts to Liberty. The district court dismissed plaintiffs' subsequent suit against Liberty for lack of personal jurisdiction, wherein plaintiffs claimed that as a lender, Liberty had certain responsibilities to plaintiffs which responsibilities were breached. On appeal, plaintiffs contend (1) Iowa does have personal jurisdiction over Liberty, (2) the suit should not have been dismissed with prejudice, and (3) the district court erred in denying its motion for leave to add party plaintiffs and motion to enlarge and amend.
We affirm the district court's finding of lack of personal jurisdiction. We modify the judgment to dismiss this case without prejudice. We find plaintiffs' appeal of the other issues is not timely. We affirm as modified.


A. Scope of Review.

When reviewing a ruling on a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, the trial court's findings of fact have the effect of a jury verdict and are subject to challenge only if not supported by substantial evidence in the record, but we are not bound by the trial court's application of legal principles or its conclusions of law. Hagan v. Val-Hi, Inc., 484 N.W.2d 173, 175 (Iowa 1992). “We accept the allegations of the petition and the contents of uncontroverted affidavits to be true.â€

David Szwak
Chairman, Consumer Protection Section, Louisiana State Bar Association
Bodenheimer, Jones & Szwak
509 Market Street, 7th Floor
Mid South Tower
Shreveport, Louisiana 71101
Fax 318-221-6555

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