Steineke v. DelzerAnnotate this Case
Sellers hired Agent to list their ranch for sale. Buyers purchased the ranch after Agent represented that the well on the ranch would produce as much water as they would need for their farming and ranching operation. Later, Buyers sued Sellers and Agent for negligent misrepresentation, maintaining that they were misled about the condition of the well and its potential to meet their farming and ranching needs. Buyers sought $513,000 in damages, which was the estimated cost of installing a new well. The circuit court (1) granted Sellers' motion to prohibit evidence of the cost of a new well as a measure of damages, and (2) prohibited Buyers from testifying on the cost of the well as a means of proving the devaluation of their property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Restatement (Second) of Torts sets forth the proper measure of damages in South Dakota for negligent misrepresentation; (2) plaintiffs asserting misrepresentation claims may recover reliance damages but not expectation damages, and therefore, Buyers' evidence of the estimated cost for a new well was properly excluded; and (3) the circuit court properly precluded Buyers from testifying on their land's value.