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Winger v. C.M. Holdings, L.L.C.

881 N.W.2d 433 (2016)

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Winger v. C.M. Holdings, L.L.C.

Iowa Supreme Court

881 N.W.2d 433 (2016)

Facts

C.M. Holdings, LLC (C.M.) (defendant) owned an apartment complex. Although the height of the balcony railings in the complex’s buildings complied with the municipal housing code when the complex was built, the height of the railings violated the current code. C.M. received a citation for the height violation, ordered higher railings, and was granted an extension of time to install new railings. Three days later, the daughter of Kathryn Winger and Timothy Potts (the Wingers) (plaintiffs) fell over the original railing and died. The Wingers filed a wrongful-death premises-liability action against C.M., claiming that the shorter balcony railing violated the municipal housing code. The court ruled that C.M.’s tort liability was not excused by the fact that the shorter railings were grandfathered out of the current code or that C.M. had been granted an extension of time to replace the railings. The jury was instructed that C.M.’s violation of the housing code constituted negligence per se. The court ruled post-trial that the doctrine of negligence per se did not apply to a local housing ordinance and ordered a new trial. The Wingers and C.M. appealed, the court of appeals affirmed, and the Iowa Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Waterman, J.)

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