Honeywell, Inc. v. Bel Air Corp.

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Citation518 So.2d 100
Decision Date30 October 1987

Page 100

518 So.2d 100
Supreme Court of Alabama.
Oct. 30, 1987.
Rehearing Denied Dec. 4, 1987.

James W. Tarlton III and David A. Boyett III of Hamilton, Butler, Riddick, Tarlton & Sullivan, Mobile, for appellant.

David P. Barton of Robins, Zelle, Larson & Kaplan, Atlanta, Ga., and Christopher G. Hume III of Johnstone, Hume & Johnston, Mobile, for appellee.

SHORES, Justice.

This is an appeal by the defendant, Honeywell, Inc. (hereinafter "Honeywell"), from the denial of its motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or, alternatively, for a new trial.

The case arose from the mechanical failure of an air conditioning unit owned by the plaintiff, Bel Air Corporation (hereinafter "Bel Air"). Under a service agreement with Bel Air, Honeywell maintained and serviced the unit, which is located atop the Sears, Roebuck & Company store at Bel Air Mall. The contract contained the following pertinent provisions:


"Planned preventative maintenance calls shall include the following services as required and applicable to keep your system operating properly:

"Check performance of all components.

"Examine, adjust, calibrate, lubricate, and clean all system components including:

1. Thermostats

2. Humidity controls

3. Temperature controls

4. Pressure controls

5. Automatic controls

6. Relays


24. Capacity and safety devices which control the equipment.

27. Boiler and temperature controllers."

Although the service agreement excluded certain items from coverage under the flat contract price, the evidence at trial indicated that Honeywell performed necessary maintenance on all components of the unit, and those services not covered by the agreement were simply invoiced to Bel Air by Honeywell.

In December 1981, the air conditioning unit failed, with the result that the stagnant water in the unit froze, ruptured the tubes inside the machine, filled the system with water, and flooded the area around the unit. Following the unit's failure and the resulting damage, Bel Air filed a suit against Honeywell, alleging breach of contract and negligence. It is Bel Air's contention that the unit and surrounding area were damaged because Honeywell did not

Page 101

maintain the safety devices in proper working order. Honeywell denies liability, contending that the safety devices themselves were working properly as of June 1981, the time of Honeywell's required annual inspection.

On appeal, Honeywell raises two issues:

1. Whether Bel Air presented sufficient evidence of either the standard of care owed by Honeywell in the performance of the service agreement or any negligent act or omission for which Honeywell was responsible, which would justify the trial court's denial of Honeywell's motions for directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

2. Whether the trial court erred when it refused to allow Honeywell's witness, Joseph M. Monahan, Jr., to testify concerning the operation of the subject air conditioning unit and the interplay of the various safety and operating controls on the unit.

At trial, Bel Air's expert witness, Paul Borrego, testified that the unit's safety devices, which are covered by Honeywell's agreement...

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3 cases
  • Lewis v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • May 30, 2003
    ...33 Ala.App. 23, 28, 30 So.2d 19, 24 (1947), cert. denied, 249 Ala. 125, 30 So.2d 26 (1947). See also Honeywell, Inc. v. Bel Air Corp., 518 So.2d 100, 102 (Ala.1987) ("Alabama's case law is clear that a non-expert may not be permitted to answer a hypothetical question."); and Newsome v. Stat......
  • Newsome v. State, 8 Div. 127
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • December 29, 1989" A hypothetical statement of facts is not an allowable basis for the opinion of a non-expert. Honeywell, Inc. v. Bel Air Corp., 518 So.2d 100 (Ala.1987); Ragland v. State, 125 Ala. 12, 26, 27 So. 983, 986 (1899); Grissom v. State, 33 Ala.App. 23, 30 So.2d 19, cert. denied, 249 Ala. 125......
  • Curtis v. Faulkner University
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • February 1, 1991
    ...if, when viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant, there exists a conflict in the evidence. Honeywell, Inc. v. Bel Air Corp., 518 So.2d 100, 101 (Ala.1987); Rule 50, Ala.R.Civ.P. Our review reveals a conflict in the evidence regarding the students' allegations. Therefore, the tr......

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