Greenwood Ranches, Inc. v. Skie Const. Co., Inc., Nos. 80-1009

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore HEANEY and ARNOLD; ARNOLD
Citation629 F.2d 518
Parties6 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 1022 GREENWOOD RANCHES, INC., Appellee/Appellant, v. SKIE CONSTRUCTION CO., INC., Ace Irrigation & Mfg. Co., and Vallery RiverRanch, Inc., Appellants/Appellees.
Decision Date11 August 1980
Docket Number80-1011 and 80-1031,Nos. 80-1009,80-1010

Page 518

629 F.2d 518
6 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. 1022
GREENWOOD RANCHES, INC., Appellee/Appellant,
v.
SKIE CONSTRUCTION CO., INC., Ace Irrigation & Mfg. Co., and
Vallery RiverRanch, Inc., Appellants/Appellees.
Nos. 80-1009, 80-1010, 80-1011 and 80-1031.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eighth Circuit.
Submitted June 10, 1980.
Decided Aug. 11, 1980.

Page 519

Ronald E. Clabaugh, Bangs, McCullen, Butler, Foye & Simmons, Rapid City, S. D., for appellant, Vallery River Ranch.

Charles H. Whiting & Hagg, Rapid City, S. D., for Ace Irrigation, etc.

William G. Porter, Costello, Porter, Hill, Nelson, Heisterkamp & Bushnell, Rapid City, S. D., for Skie Construction Co.

Gregory A. Eisesland, Lynn, Jackson, Shultz & Lebrun, Rapid City, S. D., argued for Greenwood Ranches; Gene N. Lebrun, Rapid City, S. D., on brief.

Before HEANEY and ARNOLD, Circuit Judges, and OVERTON, * District Judge.

ARNOLD, Circuit Judge.

Greenwood Ranches, Inc., brought this action against Skie Construction Co., Inc., to recover damages for losses sustained in connection with Skie's installation of an irrigation system on farmland owned by Greenwood. Greenwood predicated Skie's liability on alternate theories of negligence and breach of contract. 1 Skie in turn counterclaimed

Page 520

for $5,500 allegedly owing on its contract with Greenwood, and filed a third-party complaint seeking contribution or indemnity against Vallery River Ranch, Inc., the irrigation system's designer and supplier of pipe, and Ace Irrigation & Manufacturing Co., the manufacturer of the irrigation system's pipe. 2 In accord with Fed.R.Civ.P. 14, Greenwood then filed a new pleading making negligence, breach-of-warranty, and breach-of-contract claims against Vallery, together with negligence and breach-of-warranty claims against Ace. 3 The jury returned liability findings and special verdicts against Skie, Vallery, and Ace, apportioning negligence among these three parties and assessing damages on each theory of liability. In addition, the jury found in favor of Skie on its counterclaim against Greenwood. The District Court added up the verdicts and entered separate judgments against Skie, Vallery, and Ace in the full amount of all the verdicts put together, as more fully explained below. Following South Dakota law, the District Court denied Skie's and Vallery's claims for indemnification against Ace because of the jury's finding that all three defendants had been negligent. 4 Subsequently, the District Court denied various motions by Skie, Vallery, and Ace to alter or amend the judgment, for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or, in the alternative, for a new trial.

Skie, Vallery, and Ace appeal. Each contends that the District Court erred in entering judgment against it by cumulating verdicts on alternate theories of liability, as well as in making certain evidentiary rulings. We agree in part with appellants' contentions. We therefore vacate the judgment and remand for a new trial limited solely to the issue of damages. 5

I. Background.

Greenwood is a family-owned Wyoming corporation which owns 21,000 acres of an approximately 45,000-acre ranch. The ranch is located in Colony, Wyoming, near the borders of Montana and South Dakota in the northeastern corner of the state. Members of the James Newland family own the Greenwood capital stock and the remainder of the ranch land. The ranch operates principally as a livestock concern. The Newlands buy and sell livestock, and Greenwood leases portions of the ranch land for grazing. Greenwood itself, however, owns no animals. Livestock is owned individually by James Newland, one of his two sons, Wilbur Newland, and three ranch employees.

James Newland's other son, Robert Newland, returned to the ranch in 1970 after attending college for one year. With the intention of increasing the livestock operation's self-sufficiency, in 1973 Robert began to try to improve parts of the ranch land used for grazing. Thereafter he engaged in both dryland and irrigation farming to produce crops for animal feed. By 1976 he contemplated the installation of an irrigation system on 600 acres of ranch grassland owned by Greenwood so that the land could be farmed. From February through early May 1977 a dam was constructed near the grassland field to provide water for irrigation. 6

Page 521

During this period of time Newland entered into an oral agreement with Vallery for the design and installation of the water-transfer portion of the irrigation project. 7 The water-transfer system was to include pumps, motors, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe. On January 11, 1977, Greenwood contracted with Skie for the ground trenching and installation of the PVC pipe. Ace supplied the PVC pipe for the water-transfer system to Vallery, which was its dealer.

Construction of the system began in late April or early May 1977. Skie and Vallery completed their installation of the system in late June 1977, but testing revealed numerous leaks. Through July 1978 Ace attempted to repair the system and from then until September 1978 continued to do so under contract with Greenwood. As of trial in the Fall of 1979 the system had failed to function as contemplated.

The District Court ultimately submitted Greenwood's case against Skie on alternate theories of breach of contract and negligence; its case against Vallery, on theories of breach of express or implied warranties, breach of contract, and negligence; and its case against Ace, on theories of breach of express or implied warranties and negligence. Following a three-week trial the jury returned special verdicts 8 awarding damages and apportioning negligence as follows:

The district court thereafter entered judgments in favor of Greenwood against each of the appellants as follows:

(1) Against Skie (after credit for Skie's

$5,500 counterclaim recovery): $43,915.66

(2) Against Vallery: 101,782.92

(3) Against Ace: 111,185.03

II. Analysis.

A. Cumulating verdicts.

Although each appellant casts its argument in slightly different form, appellants essentially object to the cumulation of verdicts rendered on alternate theories of liability. We agree.

In its original and third-party complaints as well as throughout trial Greenwood sought to recover damages flowing essentially from a single transaction, the water-transfer system's failure to operate properly, on alternate theories of liability....

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45 practice notes
  • Harless v. First Nat. Bank in Fairmont, Nos. 15088
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • March 23, 1982
    ...sufficient evidence to sustain at least one theory of recovery. E.g., Greenwood Ranches, Inc. v. Skie Construction Co., Inc., et al., 629 F.2d 518 (8th Cir. 1980); Berger v. Southern Pacific, 144 Cal.App.2d 1, 300 P.2d 170 (1956); Hayes v. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, 125 Il......
  • Redlich v. City of St. Louis, 4:19-CV-00019-NAB
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Missouri
    • July 22, 2021
    ...rationally based on perception and is helpful to a determination of a fact in issue. See Greenwood Ranches, Inc. v. Skie Construction Co., 629 F.2d 518, 522 (8th Cir.1980); see also Fed.R.Evid. 701.The Court does not disagree with some of the foundational objections set forth in Plaintiffs'......
  • United States v. An Easement & Right-of-way Over 6.09 Acres of Land, No. 5:14–cv–0032–JEO
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • October 21, 2015
    ..."value of one's property" among examples of "quintessential Rule 701 opinion testimony"); Greenwood Ranches, Inc. v. Skie Const. Co., 629 F.2d 518, 522 (8th Cir.1980) ; District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency v. Thirteen Parcels of Land, 534 F.2d 337, 339 (D.C.Cir.1976) ; see also J.......
  • Corriz v. Naranjo, No. 80-1462
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • February 8, 1982
    ...should be found on any or all of the theories involved. Clappier v. Flynn, supra; Greenwood Ranches, Inc. v. Skie Const. Co., Inc., 629 F.2d 518 (8th Cir. 1980); Cunningham v. M.G. Transport Services, Inc., 527 F.2d 760 (4th Cir. Carey v. Piphus, supra, involved a suit for damages brought b......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
45 cases
  • Harless v. First Nat. Bank in Fairmont, Nos. 15088
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • March 23, 1982
    ...sufficient evidence to sustain at least one theory of recovery. E.g., Greenwood Ranches, Inc. v. Skie Construction Co., Inc., et al., 629 F.2d 518 (8th Cir. 1980); Berger v. Southern Pacific, 144 Cal.App.2d 1, 300 P.2d 170 (1956); Hayes v. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, 125 Il......
  • Redlich v. City of St. Louis, 4:19-CV-00019-NAB
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Missouri
    • July 22, 2021
    ...rationally based on perception and is helpful to a determination of a fact in issue. See Greenwood Ranches, Inc. v. Skie Construction Co., 629 F.2d 518, 522 (8th Cir.1980); see also Fed.R.Evid. 701.The Court does not disagree with some of the foundational objections set forth in Plaintiffs'......
  • United States v. An Easement & Right-of-way Over 6.09 Acres of Land, No. 5:14–cv–0032–JEO
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Alabama
    • October 21, 2015
    ..."value of one's property" among examples of "quintessential Rule 701 opinion testimony"); Greenwood Ranches, Inc. v. Skie Const. Co., 629 F.2d 518, 522 (8th Cir.1980) ; District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency v. Thirteen Parcels of Land, 534 F.2d 337, 339 (D.C.Cir.1976) ; see also J.......
  • Corriz v. Naranjo, No. 80-1462
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • February 8, 1982
    ...should be found on any or all of the theories involved. Clappier v. Flynn, supra; Greenwood Ranches, Inc. v. Skie Const. Co., Inc., 629 F.2d 518 (8th Cir. 1980); Cunningham v. M.G. Transport Services, Inc., 527 F.2d 760 (4th Cir. Carey v. Piphus, supra, involved a suit for damages brought b......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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