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Kunde v. Estate of Bowman

Iowa Supreme Court

Case Name: Kunde v. Estate of Bowman

Filed: February 21, 2018 by Iowa Court of Appeals (No. 17-0791)

Subject matter: This case includes discussion of the following:

  • The failure of equitable claims of quantum meruit and unjust enrichment as a matter of law given the existence of an express agreement on the same subject.
  • The development and history of promissory estoppel in Iowa, including inconsistency in Iowa case law with some decisions applying a “three-element test” and others applying a “four-element test.”
  • The majority applied the four-element test and reversed summary judgment on the claim, finding a fact issue relating to a clear and definite promise. The elements applied are: “ΓÇÿ(1) a clear and definite promise; (2) the promise was made with the promisor’s clear understanding that the promise was seeking an assurance upon which the promisee could rely and without which he would not act; (3) the promisee acted to his substantial detriment in reasonable reliance on the promise; and (4) the injustice can be avoided only [by] enforcement of the promise.’” (quoting Schoff v. Combined Ins. Co. of America, 604 N.W.2d 43, 49 (Iowa 1999).
  • The dissent applied the elements in McKee v. Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. 864 N.W.2d 518 (Iowa 2015) and would have affirmed the district court’s summary judgment. The three elements are: “ΓÇÿ(1) a clear and definite oral agreement; (2) proof that plaintiff acted to his detriment in reliance thereon; and (3) a finding that the equities entitle the plaintiff to this relief.’”

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