Court of Appeals of Texas, Second District, Fort Worth
Appeal from County Court at Law No. 2 Denton County, Texas
Trial Court No. CV-2015-01451
Birdwell, Bassel, and Wallach, JJ.
Dan Alan Lewis sued Appellant Charter Communications, Inc.
for damages he sustained when his house flooded during the
installation of an internet cable on his property. Based on
the jury's verdict, the trial court awarded Lewis damages
on his claim for breach of an implied warranty of workmanlike
performance, and Charter now appeals. Because the evidence
was not legally sufficient to establish that Charter's
breach of the implied warranty was a cause of Lewis's
damages, we reverse the trial court's judgment and render
judgment that Lewis take nothing on his claims.
sued Charter for breach of contract, breach of the
implied warranty of good and workmanlike performance, and
violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, as well
as several other claims that were dismissed on summary
judgment. Lewis alleged that the flooding in his home
resulted from the use of a water spigot on the side of his
home by an employee of Charter's subcontractor while that
employee was burying an internet cable. Lewis had previously
removed the spigot's handle to prevent unauthorized use
of his water. Nevertheless, the subcontractor's employees
managed to use the water spigot. Lewis sought to recover the
costs to repair the damage to his home and lost income; a
symphony pianist and cellist, Lewis also taught music out of
his home but found it difficult to do so during the repair
testified that a Charter employee installed the internet
cable on his property on July 8, 2013, but told him another
crew would come by in a few days to bury it. According to
Lewis, on July 10, 2013, he walked into his kitchen and found
it and his utility room "under about an inch of
water," and water then migrated to other parts of the
house. Lewis stated that in following the flow of water to
his garage, he found the subcontractor's vehicle in his
driveway, alerting him for the first time to the crew's
jury found that Charter had breached an implied warranty of
workmanlike performance, which was a producing cause of
Lewis's damages, and it awarded him $15, 000 for repair
costs, $25, 000 for lost income, and attorney's fees. The
jury further found that Charter did not fail to comply with
its agreement with Lewis and did not engage in any
unconscionable action or course of action that caused
Lewis's damages. The trial court signed a final judgment
in accordance with the jury's verdict.
Charter's first issue, it argues that the evidence was
legally insufficient to support the jury's finding that
Charter's conduct was a producing cause of Lewis's
damages because Lewis failed to show a causal link between
Charter's alleged wrongful conduct and Lewis's
Standard of Review
sustain a legal-sufficiency challenge-that is, a no-evidence
challenge-only when (1) the record discloses a complete
absence of evidence of a vital fact, (2) the rules of law or
of evidence bar the court from giving weight to the only
evidence offered to prove a vital fact, (3) the evidence
offered to prove a vital fact is no more than a mere
scintilla, or (4) the evidence establishes conclusively the
opposite of a vital fact. Ford Motor Co. v.
Castillo, 444 S.W.3d 616, 620 (Tex. 2014) (op. on
reh'g); Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. v. Martinez,
977 S.W.2d 328, 334 (Tex. 1998) (op. on reh'g). In
determining whether legally sufficient evidence supports the
finding under review, we must consider evidence favorable to
the finding if a reasonable factfinder could and must
disregard contrary evidence unless a reasonable factfinder
could not. Cent. Ready Mix Concrete Co. v. Islas,
228 S.W.3d 649, 651 (Tex. 2007); City of Keller v.
Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 807, 827 (Tex. 2005).
law recognizes an implied warranty to repair or modify
existing tangible goods or property in a good and workmanlike
manner, and an action for breach of this warranty may be
brought under the common law or under the DTPA. Tex. Bus.
& Com. Code Ann. § 17.50(a)(2); Nghiem v.
Sajib, 567 S.W.3d 718, 719 (Tex. 2019). "The
implied warranty of good and workmanlike manner provides that
a service will be performed in a skillful and workmanlike
manner," which is "'that quality of work
performed by one who has the knowledge, training, or
experience necessary for the successful practice of a trade
or occupation and performed in a manner generally considered
proficient by those capable of judging such work.'"