Iowa Supreme Court Explores the Definition of a “Possessor” Under Iowa Premises Liability Law

Posted on: September 1st, 2022

In July 2020, Plaintiff filed suit in the Dallas County District Court seeking damages after she slipped on an icy driveway of a home that she was considering purchasing. Shortly after filing her original Petition Plaintiff filed an amended Petition naming the homeowners and the homeowners’ listing agency, Iowa Realty Company, Inc. (“Iowa Realty”), as defendants. The amended Petition alleged the defendants were negligent because they failed to provide adequate warning about the icy driveway and failed to remedy a hazardous condition they had created.


Iowa Realty moved for summary judgment arguing that it owed no duty to the Plaintiff. The district court denied Iowa Realty’s motion for summary judgment. Iowa Realty sought interlocutory review of the district court’s ruling, which was granted by the Iowa Supreme Court. The issue before the Iowa Supreme Court was whether sales agents have a duty to protect potential buyers from hazards on a property they have listed for sale.


The Iowa Supreme Court held a listing agent who is not present and holds a limited role in granting access to a property does not normally owe a duty of care to those viewing the property. The Court declined to adopt Plaintiff’s position, noting that having a right to enter property is not the same as having possession or control over the property. The district court’s denial of summary judgment was reversed and remanded for entry of summary judgment in favor of Iowa Realty.


DeSousa v. Iowa Realty Co., Inc., No. 21-0679 (Iowa June 10, 2022).

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