Maxine Gail Veatch v. City of Waverly and Jason Leonard. IA false arrest
In 2006, staff at a Waverly, Iowa, nursing home believed that Maxine Veatch and her sister had abused their mother by pushing her into a wheelchair, wheeling her out of view, and screaming at her. Police were eventually called. Police interviewed staff and read a report by a physician who had examined the mother. They called Veatch to the police station. When asked about the allegations, Veatch invoked her right to counsel, and the questioning ended. Instead, police returned with a criminal complaint and arrested Veatch.
Veatch was ultimately acquitted of the charges, and filed a lawsuit against the police for, among other things, false imprisonment. After a long procedural course through various courts, including the federal district court and the Eighth Circuit, the case found its way to Bremer County District Court, Judge DeDra Schroeder. Judge Schroeder granted the police department's motion for summary judgment, and the case eventually made its way to the Iowa Supreme Court.
The appeal hinged on whether the arrest was proper under Iowa Code 804.7(3). Under that statute, an officer may make an arrest when he or she "has reasonable ground for believing that an indictable public offense has been committed" by the person being arrested. The court held that the arrest was proper under this statute.
Veatch cited cases in which arrests were held improper when the officer knew that there was a vindictive motive by the person making the complaint, and the evidence suggested that she had told the officers that there was a vindictive motive on the part of the nursing home staff.
However, the court distinguished those cases, such as Kraft v. City of Bettendorf, 359 N.W.2d 466 (Iowa 1984). In Kraft, the only evidence the officers had was the statement of the victim, and the officers were personally aware of the vendetta against the person arrested. But in this case, the officers had made a more thorough investigation, including a review of the medical report, and the high court held that they possessed probable cause to make the arrest.
Since the arrest was proper, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment.
No. 13-0417 (Iowa Jan. 9, 2015)
Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.
Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).
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