Jodie Clark McDougal
Jodie McDougal, a shareholder at the Davis Brown Law Firm, is a member of the Construction, Real Estate, Litigation, and Insurance Defense Departments and is Chair of the Construction Department.
Jodie has a general practice that includes, but is not limited to, the following areas:
- Construction law and litigation, as further described below;
- Certain areas within the real estate field, including landlord-tenant law (including residential and commercial leasing matters, and matters for manufactured home communities), homeowner’s association matters, mechanic’s liens, real estate litigation, real estate purchases and sales, and the handling of other real estate-related disputes; and
- Litigation, including insurance defense; construction litigation; professional liability defense, products liability defense, and other defensive litigation; probate, estate, fiduciary, and trust litigation; real estate litigation; commercial/business litigation; agricultural-related litigation; finance/equipment lease litigation; collection actions; and appeals.
In her litigation practice, Jodie has successfully tried numerous bench and jury trials, both individually and with colleagues, in several practice areas. Her trial and litigation successes include the following:
- Obtaining dismissals for numerous defendant-clients, including dismissals via directed verdict, summary judgment, and at trial, in various types of cases, such as insurance defense, lemon law cases, employment matters, medical malpractice, agricultural , employment, contract cases, and other matters;
- Obtaining five and six-figure judgments for her plaintiff-clients in cases involving commercial and contract disputes;
- Obtaining a directed verdict from the Court prior to the case going to the jury in defense of an agricultural cooperative company in a matter involving various contract and professional liability claims;
- Obtaining summary judgment on six counts in defense of a $150 million suit brought against her client, a Fortune 500 company;
- Obtaining summary judgment, which was affirmed on appeal, in a $65 million suit brought by a local boxing promoter against her client, a Las Vegas boxing manager (Capital Promotions, L.L.C. v. Baxter, 2008 Iowa App. LEXIS 1200 (Iowa App. 2008));
- Through the filing of an amicus curiae brief for the Iowa Trust Association, obtaining a reversal of a district court’s controversial decision and a resulting decision in favor of the fiduciary-trustee, in the Trimble trust case. (In re Trust No. T-1 of Trimble, 11-1967, 2013 WL 275637 (Iowa Jan. 25, 2013); see article summarizing decision here.
- Successfully invalidating an attorney-in-fact's $225,000 attempted liquidation of a principal's funds shortly before the principal's death;
- Successfully handling various types of estate, probate, trust, and power of attorney disputes, lawsuits, and appeals;
- Successfully handling multiple trials involving mechanic’s liens and other construction and real estate law issues;
- Successfully obtaining various judgments for her respective commercial and residential landlord/lesser-clients;
- Successfully defending a client in a consumer fraud action brought by the Iowa Attorney's General Office; and
- Successfully obtaining judgments, settling, and otherwise handling various employment disputes and litigation matters, including those involving a discrimination, retaliation, or wrongful termination claim against an employer-client; enforcement of an employer-client's rights under its employee handbooks; and enforcement of an employer-client’s non-competition and non-solicitation agreements with its past and current employees and officers; and
- Successfully settling a countless number of other types of cases to the benefit of her respective clients.
*Please note that Jodie's Prior results in the aforementioned cases do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome in respect to any future matter and that results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each representation.
In her litigation work, Jodie has represented numerous Fortune 500 companies, including national insurance companies, an automobile manufacturer, pharmaceutical company, national banks and financial institutions, an agricultural company and an information technology company. Jodie has also represented many other local, regional, and/or national construction companies, medical facilities, real estate-related companies, landlords and property management companies, agricultural companies, financial institutions, and other companies, as well as individuals across the county.
Construction Law and Litigation
In the area of construction law and litigation, Jodie has represented numerous companies and individuals within the commercial and residential construction industries, including general contractors, architectural, engineering, and other design professional firms, subcontractors, suppliers, as well as commercial property owners.
Jodie's work within the area of construction law and litigation has involved the following:
- Mechanic's lien law and litigation;
- Claims under Iowa Code Chapter 573 for public projects (i.e., public improvement claims / bond claims);
- Drafting, reviewing, and negotiating various residential contracts and forms, including but not limited to, new construction agreements, remodeling agreements, subcontractor agreements, warranties, homeowner packets/manuals, and equipment leases.
- Drafting, reviewing, and negotiating various AIA and other contracts regarding commercial projects for owners and developers, general contractors, architects, subcontractors, and others. Handing pre-litigation disputes and otherwise advising companies regarding disputes that arise during projects, including situations involving AIA Claims, Initial Decision Maker decisions, Change Order disputes, liquidated damages claims, contract termination and/or extensions, warranty and punch list disputes, decisions regarding acceptance or rejection of Certificates of Payments, and other claims.
- Litigating various types of construction and design cases, both for plaintiffs and defendants, including those involving allegations of negligent work and/or defective products, negligent design claims, mechanic's liens, Chapter 573 (public project) claims, breach of contract claims, warranty claims, water intrusion and mold claims, bond claims, and collection matters; and
- Acting as general counsel for various construction and design companies and advising them as to their various contract, dispute, best practices, and other questions that arise throughout their various projects.
As a result of her work in this area, Jodie is regularly asked to present on Iowa's new Mechanic's Lien Law, which took effect on January 1, 2013. She also consistently provides her clients with educational updates about the law. The following are among the Mechanic’s Lien Law’s major changes: (1) a new centralized online registry, created and administered by the Iowa Secretary of State, for the filing of all mechanic's liens for residential and commercial projects, as well as pre-lien notices for residential projects; and (2) new pre-lien notice requirements for many residential general contractors, remodelers, and subcontractors/suppliers, including a "Notice of Commencement" that must be filed by many residential general contractors/remodelers no later than ten (10) days after the commencement of a residential project, as well as "preliminary notices" that must be filed by many residential subcontractors and suppliers.
Jodie’s Construction Law Resources and Materials:
Below are various written materials and resources provided by Jodie on the new mechanic’s lien law and other construction law topics, many of which have been discussed during one of Jodie’s various speaking engagements for construction groups and associations:
- Owner Notice Requirement. The following document describes the current Owner Notice requirement under Iowa law for residential general contractors: Required Owner Notice Language.
- Sample Owner Notice Form. Sample Owner Notice for those residential general contractors who do not include the Owner Notice language within their contracts.
- Information on the Secretary of State Notices. The following document provides a brief explanation regarding the notices that will be sent to homeowners by the Secretary of State's office whenever a commencement of work notice or preliminary notice is posted on the new online Mechanics' Notice and Lien Registry: Secretary of State Notices.
- Top Takeaways Regarding the New Mechanic’s Lien Law (4/2013). Jodie has published the following article setting forth the "Five Things You Need to Know About Iowa’s New Mechanic’s Lien Law".
- Summary of the New Law (As of 11/2012). Jodie has also published the following article in the HBA's November Blueprint publication, summarizing the law as of November 2012: Iowa's Mechanic's Lien Law.
- New Language to Add to Final Lien Waivers. Some construction companies are adding language to their Final Lien Waiver forms regarding any commencement of work notices or preliminary notices posted on the Mechanics' Notice and Lien Registry. The following document contains a discussion on this topic: Discussion on Final Lien Waiver Form.
- Article Regarding Construction Contract Law (9/2013). Jodie has published the following article regarding the benefits of builders and remodelers having well-written contracts. Trading in the Handshake for a Well-Written Contract
- Imposing Implied Warranty on Land Developers: Details on the Iowa Court of Appeals decision regarding Rosauer Corp. v. Sapp Development and WC Development, which ruled that a purchaser of a residential building lot cannot sue the land developer for perceived deficiencies with the excavation and dirt work performed by that land developer (6/17/14).
- Iowa Court of Appeals Renders Favorable Opinion: On August 31, 2016, the Iowa Court of Appeals rendered its opinion in the Standard Water mechanic’s lien case tried in 2014, which involved an issue of first impression regarding Iowa’s new lien law. The opinion is attached hereto. More details on the decision are here. A few media outlets have covered the results of the case including the Home Builders Association and the Business Record. Copies of the articles are available here.
The Iowa Court of Appeals continues to consider appeals on the specifics of the case including oral arguments on December 14, 2018.
- Mechanic’s Lien Updates (2017). In 2017, the legislature passed and Governor Branstad signed a bill updating Iowa’s Mechanic’s Lien laws. Details of the new law and how it will impact residential construction companies.
- Statute of Repose Updates (2017). Iowa’s Statute of Repose laws were updated in 2017 bringing the statute of repose down to 8 years for commercial construction and 10 years for residential construction with certain exceptions. This article details the changes and the exceptions.
- Risk Management for Builders. General contractors and builders face a unique situation when it comes to risk management. They are legally responsible to owners for the actions and omissions of their subcontractors. This article details some steps builders should take to protect yourself and your business.
- Protect your Business with Insurance Coverage. Whether you are a developer, builder, design professional, subcontractor, or supplier, one of the most important aspects of risk management is ensuring both you, and any entities with whom you contract, have good insurance. But, do you really know if you have enough insurance and the types of coverage you need? The four questions in this article are a jumping off point for your annual conversation with your insurance broker and your attorney.
- OSHA's New Silica Rules. Are you ready for OSHA to inspect your jobsite?
- Summary of 2018 Iowa Construction Industry Legislation.
- Iowa Supreme Court Decision Means Less Mechanic's Lien Rights. The Winger Contracting Co. v. Cargill, Inc. decision impacts Iowa Contractors.
- Construction Industry 2019 Legislative Update. New laws that went into effect July 1, 2019.
Jodie is an active member of the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines, Home Builders Association of Iowa, and Master Builders of Iowa. She regularly attends HBA meetings, has presented for HBA members on various legal issues, and has published multiple articles in the HBA’s Blueprint publication
Real Estate Law and Litigation
In the area of real estate law and litigation, Jodie has tried multiple cases, representing both plaintiffs and defendants; has successfully settled a countless number of other cases; and has provided counsel to various real estate buyers, sellers, and developers in their various transactional real estate matters.
Jodie’s work in the area of real estate law and litigation includes the following:
- Mechanic’s lien matters;
- Homeowners’ association issues, including collection of delinquent assessments, enforcement of covenants, and preparation and amendment of association rules and covenants;
- Breach of purchase agreement disputes;
- Negotiation of real estate purchase and sale contracts for sellers and purchases;
- Obligations of realtors and other realtor issues; Mandatory seller disclosure claims and claims of pre-existing water and/or mold problems;
- Nuisance actions involving municipalities;
- Drainage-related matters;
- Subdivision-related work;
- Enforcement of installment contracts; and
- Infringement of property ownership rights by an adjacent land-owner.
Landlord-tenant law and litigation
Jodie regularly works with commercial and residential landlords on various legal matters. Jodie has also represented residential and commercial tenants in regards to their tenancy issues.
- Drafting and negotiating residential and commercial lease agreements;
- Drafting and implementing Rules and Regulations for residential landlords and property managers, including owners/managers of manufacturing home communities;
- Drafting and implementing other various forms and policies in the residential leasing arena (e.g., installment sale contracts for manufacturing homes, pet policies, application forms, etc.);
- Advising landlords on legal issues under Iowa Code Chapter 562A (Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act);
- Advising landlords on legal issues under Iowa Code Chapter 562B (Mobile Home Parks Residential Landlord and Tenant Act / Manufactured Home Communities);
- Handling pre-litigation landlord-tenant disputes;
- Defending HUD, Fair Housing Act, and other housing discrimination complaints; and
- Litigating various types of cases, including breach of lease agreement matters, enforcement of landlord liens, FED actions, collection actions, actions involving abandoned mobile homes, matters involving the alleged breach of the implied warranty/covenant of quiet enjoyment, guaranty disputes, and private nuisance disputes.
Jodie is an active member of the Iowa Manufactured Housing Association; she has presented at their annual and monthly meetings on various landlord/tenant issues, including reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, other Fair Housing issues, and an update on the recent case law following the 2013 case of Staley v. Barkalow. Jodie is also a member of the American Apartment Owners Association and is the official AAOA Iowa attorney on landlord-tenant matters.
Jodie’s Landlord-Tenant Law Resources and Materials:
Below are various written materials and resources provided by Jodie on Iowa landlord-tenant law:
- The Law RE: Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals. The following is an article that describes the current state of the law regarding a landlord’s obligation to allow a tenant to have a service dog or emotional support animal in the tenant’s leased premises. Service Dogs And Emotional Support Animals: Man’s Best Friend Becomes A Landlord’s Biggest Headache.
- The Staley v. Barkalow case. The following is an article describing the 2013 Staley v. Barkalow decision. The clear implication of this case to all residential Iowa landlords is that they should carefully review their leases and their Rules and Regulations to ensure they contain no unlawful provisions. Questionable Provisions Included in Residential Leases: Landlords Must be on Alert After the Staley v. Barkalow Case.
- Dealing with Abandoned Mobile Homes. The following is an article that discusses a landlord’s alternatives to seeking court intervention in dealing with an abandoned mobile home. The alternative method involves the landlord making a 60-day election regarding the manufactured house. Dealing with Abandoned Mobile Homes Without Utilizing the Courts: The 60-day Election by a Landlord.
- Iowa Supreme Court’s May 2016 Opinions in Landlord-Tenant Cases of De Stefano and Caruso. The following is an article summarizing the May 2016 Iowa Supreme Court decisions in the landlord-tenant cases of Elyse De Stefano v. Apts. Downtown, Inc., and Lenora Caruso v. Apts. Downtown, Inc. In particular, the article sets forth the Supreme Court’s various conclusions in these cases, which have broad implications to Iowa landlords and the lease agreements used by Iowa landlords. Iowa’s Highest Court Enters First Decision on Certain Landlord-Tenant Issues Raised in 2013 Staley Case: Landlords Must Take Note of De Stefano v. Apts. Downtown
- Landlord’s Use of Criminal Records in Screening Potential Tenants. The following article discusses the 4/4/2016 memorandum published by HUD as well as some practical "dos" and "don'ts" regarding the use of criminal records by landlords and other housing providers. HUD’s Newly Published Guidelines and Warnings Regarding a Landlord’s Use of Criminal Records in Screening Potential Tenants
- Claims of Harassment against Housing Providers. The following article discusses the new HUD rule which took effect on October 14, 2016 that addresses how HUD and courts define and evaluate claims of harassment. New HUD Rule Establishes Standards for Use in Investigating and Adjudicating Claims of Harassment Regarding Housing Providers
- Homeowner's Association Bill Dies During First Funnel Week. House File 158, "Iowa Common Interest Ownership Act," failed to pass the first legislative funnel of 2017. The Act proposed several changes to the current law and we believed such proposed changes were generally detrimental to association boards, association management companies, and developers of such communities.
- Statutory Landlord's Liens. The following article discusses a tool commercial landlords who are owed rent by tenants can use to enforce their rights. A Forgotten Tool for Commercial Landlords - Statutory Landlord's Liens
- 2017 Legislative Update. On Friday, April 21, 2017 Governor Branstad signed two bills into law that are favorable to Iowa residential landlords - one, HF134, concerns occupancy regulations, and the second, HF146, concerns evictions. Governor Branstad Signs Two Bills Favorable to Iowa Residential Landlords
- Iowa Supreme Court Kline and Walton Decisions. The following is an article detailing the Iowa Supreme Court’s May 2017 Kline and Walton decisions impacting Iowa landlords. Iowa Supreme Court Hands Down Decisions in Two Iowa City Residential Landlord-Tenant Cases
- 2018 Iowa Legislation Affecting Iowa Landlords
- Water Excise Tax. This article is an overview of the new (2018) water excise tax and the impact on Iowa landlords. This article provides updated information about itemization and billing. Iowa Department of Revenue Announces Re-Write of Water Excise Tax Rules for Manufactured Housing Community. Iowa Department of Revenue Distributes Draft Version of Revised Proposed Rules on the Water Excise Tax Rules for Manufactured Housing Community, Iowa DOR Distributes Second Set of Revised Rules on WET
- 2019 Iowa Legislation Affecting Iowa Landlords
- Iowa publishes standardized form for assistance and service animal findings by medical providers.
Awards & Honors
- 2021 The Best Lawyers in America© - Construction Law
- 2020 The Best Lawyers in America© - Construction Law
- 2019 The Best Lawyers in America© - Construction Law
- 2018 The Best Lawyers in America© - Construction Law
- 2017 The Best Lawyers in America© - Construction Law
- 2016 The Best Lawyers in America© - Construction Law
- 2019 Great Plains Super Lawyers Rising Star, Construction Litigation
- 2018 Great Plains Super Lawyers Rising Star, Construction Litigation
- 2017 Great Plains Super Lawyers Rising Star, Construction Litigation
- 2016 Great Plains Super Lawyers Rising Star, Construction Litigation
- 2015 Great Plains Super Lawyers Rising Star, Construction Litigation
- 2014 Great Plains Super Lawyers Rising Star, Construction Litigation
- 2013 Great Plains Super Lawyers Rising Star, Construction Litigation
Publications, Speeches and Seminars
Jodie regularly speaks to construction and real estate groups on a variety of topics, including mechanic’s liens, public project claims, construction contracts, Iowa construction law principles, collection actions, Iowa Code Chapter 562A (Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act), Iowa Code Chapter 562B (Mobile Home Parks Residential Landlord and Tenant Act / Manufactured Home Communities), and other landlord-tenant topics. Her construction law presentations have included a presentation to the Story County Bar Association.
Jodie has presented multiple times at the firm's Employment and Labor Law Seminar on various topics, including unemployment claims, wrongful termination, document retention, interviewing and hiring of employees, sexual harassment issues, and best practices for employers. Jodie has also presented multiple times at the firm's Fiduciary Litigation Seminar.
Jodie has written numerous articles including ones published in various association newsletters and the HBA’s Blueprint magazine. Finally, Jodie is a contributing author of the online publication, Lien Law Online, which provides users with mechanic's lien law updates across the nation.