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Supreme Pork v. Master Blaster

764 N.W.2d 474 (2009)

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Supreme Pork v. Master Blaster

South Dakota Supreme Court

764 N.W.2d 474 (2009)

Facts

Supreme Pork, Inc. (Supreme Pork) (plaintiff) hired Master Blaster, Inc. (Master Blaster) (defendant) to install a new pressure-washer system in a pig barn. Even though work by Pipestone Plumbing and Heating (PP&H) had just caused a fire in another pig barn, Master Blaster hired PP&H to install the exhaust and venting part of Supreme Pork’s new system. PP&H did not do the work properly, failing to install attic shields and failing to meet code requirements for some other parts. Although the code violations did not cause problems, the absence of shields caused a major barn fire three years later. Supreme Pork sued Master Blaster, claiming that PP&H’s negligence had caused the fire and that Master Blaster was responsible for PP&H’s negligent work. Before trial, Master Blaster asked the court to exclude evidence of PP&H’s code violations because everyone agreed that the violations had not caused the fire. Master Blaster also asked to exclude evidence of the previous barn fire because that earlier fire had been caused by a different issue. The trial court denied both exclusion requests, and Supreme Pork presented evidence of the code violations and the previous fire to the jury. The jury found that Master Blaster was liable to Supreme Pork for the barn-fire damages. Master Blaster appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gilbertson, C.J.)

Dissent (Sabers, J.)

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