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Judge rules in favor of Kirk Ferentz and wife

University of Iowa football coach did not break a contract with neighbors, ruling states

Iowa Hawkeyes head football Coach Kirk Ferentz (from left) and Mary Ferentz leave the Linn County Courthouse after a hearing in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Jun. 1, 2018. Kirk and Mary Ferentz were scheduled to go to trial Feb. 6 in Johnson County after they were sued by Saddle Club Road Homeowners’ Association over road repairs and other issues in their rural Johnson County neighborhood. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes head football Coach Kirk Ferentz (from left) and Mary Ferentz leave the Linn County Courthouse after a hearing in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Jun. 1, 2018. Kirk and Mary Ferentz were scheduled to go to trial Feb. 6 in Johnson County after they were sued by Saddle Club Road Homeowners’ Association over road repairs and other issues in their rural Johnson County neighborhood. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — A Johnson County judge says University of Iowa Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz and his wife did not break a contract with their neighbors and don’t owe them money.

Judge Chad Kepros ruled this week that Kirk and Mary Ferentz did not agree to be part of a homeowners association and were not subject to its rules. He dismissed a claim the Ferentzes owed $9,600 and dismissed a lien the neighbors had filed against the couple’s $1.2 million house on Saddle Club Road, north of Iowa City.

Further, Kepros said the couple’s landscaping doesn’t interfere with travel on Saddle Club Road, a key contention of the 2016 lawsuit that went to trial in February.

Shortly after the Ferentzes built their house on the single-lane gravel road in 1999, another couple, John and Ann Marie Buatti, proposed subdividing their own property for development including surfacing the road, court records state. The Ferentzes opposed the plan for privacy concerns, John Buatti testified in a deposition.

The couples signed an agreement in 2001 saying the Buattis would not sell further parcels and the neighbors, including the Ferentzes, agreed to form a homeowners association in part to plan for road maintenance, court records state. The three couples that sued the Ferentzes alleged the Ferentzes broke that 2001 deal, but Kepros ruled this week “an agreement to agree in the future” is not enforceable as a contract breach.

The plaintiffs in the suit, including the Buattis, Gary Watts, Becky Watts, Elayne Sexsmith and Fred Page, are required to pay the cost of the suit, Kepros ruled. He denied the Ferentzes’ claim to attorney fees.

While a decision has been reached in this lawsuit, the plaintiffs have filed another suit in Johnson County including a breach of contract claim they were not allowed to include in an amendment to the first petition. That lawsuit is set for trial June 9, 2020. It was not immediately clear whether Kepros’s decision this week will affect the other case.

• Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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