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Tomczak v. Koochiching County Highway Department

Minnesota Court of Appeals
1999 Minn. App. LEXIS 138 (Feb. 9, 1999)


Facts

In April 1996, Maureen and William Tomczak (plaintiffs), along with other residents of Koochiching County, Minnesota, complained to the county board about rising water levels in a gravel pit near their homes. The board authorized the Koochiching County Highway Department (defendant) to furnish a pump, paid for by the county, to pump water from the pit. The Tomczaks said they would provide a site for the pump and keep it fueled and oiled. Before the county placed the pump, the county engineer obtained a signed release from the Tomczaks. The release provided that in exchange for the county furnishing the pump, the Tomczaks agreed to fuel and oil the pump and also to waive the county’s liability for any injury or damages caused by the pumping. The county installed the pump, but the pump did not work as well as expected. The county then installed a second pump, but the pumping caused flooding on neighboring properties, and the water level in the gravel pit continued to be a concern. In early June 1996, the county stopped pumping. The Tomczaks’ house flooded a few weeks later. The Tomczaks brought an action against the highway department, claiming that their signed release agreement was a contract for the county to pump water from the pit, and the county breached the contract when it stopped pumping. The trial court dismissed the Tomczaks’ breach-of-contract claim, and they appealed to the Court of Appeals of Minnesota.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Peterson, J.)

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