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Rotwein v. Bogart

Decided: January 25, 1962.

ROTWEIN
v.
BOGART ET UX.



Appeal from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County; Shure, J.

Hammond, Horney, Marbury and Sybert, JJ., and Duckett, J., Associate Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit, specially assigned. Duckett, J., by special assignment, delivered the opinion of the Court.

Duckett

This case involves the purchase by the appellant of a house and lot from the appellees in Bethesda, Maryland. The house was constructed by the appellees (defendants below) and purchased by the appellant, a Washington, D. C., lawyer, in January, 1958, for forty-three thousand, five hundred dollars ($43,500). A contract of sale executed by the parties contained, among others, the following warranties:

"Seller [warrants] that the workmanship and materials of the house and equipment are free of defects and in good working order. * * *"

"It is agreed that prior to settlement seller will correct any condition of the land resulting in faulty drainage, particularly the condition which results in the accumulation of water in the rear of the property and the depositing of silt on adjoining property."

The appellant, claiming that the appellees had breached the

above provisions, filed suit against them for damages in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. After a lengthy trial, the jury decided against the purchaser and in favor of the builder.

The appellant presents two points in requesting a new trial or a reversal of the judgment of the court below, viz.:

(1) Did the trial court commit reversible error in refusing to permit appellant's rebuttal witness to express an opinion as to what caused the floors to be squeaky and noisy?

(2) Did the trial court commit reversible error in withdrawing from the consideration of the jury the issue of whether the provision relating to the drainage condition had been breached by the appellees?

We shall first consider Point No. 1. The witness in question, Jack Pustilnik, called in rebuttal, was permitted to testify that he had been in the lumber business for twenty-two years; that he was vice-president, general manager and a stockholder in the Baltimore Lumber Company where he was on duty daily from eight a.m. to five p.m. However, he testified that in addition to his above duties, he had for two years (about five or six years ago) been a partner in a floor laying business and that while working at the lumber company, he had, at the same time, supervised the laying of floors in approximately two hundred homes. He did not lay any of the floors himself. Acting upon this testimony, the court ruled that Mr. Pustilnik could qualify as an expert in the lumber business but not in the flooring trade. In his ruling, the ...


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