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Nebraska Court of Appeals Affirms Finding for Breach of Implied Warranty

on Friday, 14 June 2013 in Dirt Alert: David C. Levy, Editor

The Nebraska Court of Appeals recently affirmed a district court holding that flawed construction caused water damage to a home and breached an implied warranty to perform in a workmanlike manner.  Oettinger v. Hiatt, 2013 Neb. Ct. App. Lexis 17.  

In 2004, the Hiatts constructed a house in North Platte that they sold to the Oettingers in 2006.  A few months after the sale, the Oettingers found water in the basement, they approached the Hiatts, and the Hiatts agreed to replace the septic lift.  Water continued to seep into the basement and the parties took extensive remedial measures in 2009.  Water issues increased in 2010 and the Oettingers suffered significant damages.  

The Oettingers filed suit against the Hiatts in 2011 claiming breach of implied warranty to perform in a workmanlike manner.  The Hiatts argued that the Oettingers’ landscaping caused the water problems.  At trial, both parties presented substantial evidence and expert testimony.  

The Lincoln County Court held that the Hiatts breached an implied warranty because they did not construct the home in a workmanlike manner and the home was not reasonably fit for its intended use.  In its finding, the County Court noted it relied on testimony that the Hiatts’ construction caused the water to enter the basement.  The Hiatts appealed.  

The District Court of Lincoln County affirmed.  The District Court held that the expert testimony supported a breach of implied warranty.  The Hiatts appealed again. 

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed.  The Court of Appeals explained that, in Nebraska, a builder impliedly warrants they will erect a building in a workmanlike manner, in accordance with good usage and accepted practices, and reasonably fit for its intended purpose.  The Court of Appeals held that the record contained sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that the Haitts’ faulty construction design allowed water to infiltrate the Oettingers’ basement, causing the Oettingers to suffer damages.  

Amy L. Lawrenson

Read the Full Newsletter: Dirt Alert June 14, 2013

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