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Braunger Foods, LLC v. Sears

Supreme Court of Nebraska

June 14, 2013

Braunger Foods, LLC, formerly known as Toba of Iowa, LLC, doing business as Braunger Foods, appellant,
v.
Michael K. Sears and Hungry's North, Inc., appellees.

1. Contracts. Whether a contract exists is a question of fact.

2. Judgments: Appeal and Error. The trial court's factual findings in a bench trial of an action at law have the effect of a jury verdict and will not be set aside unless clearly erroneous.

3. Contracts: Judgments: Appeal and Error. The meaning of a contract is a question of law, in connection with which an appellate court has an obligation to reach its conclusions independently of the determinations made by the court below.

4. Contracts: Guaranty. A guaranty is interpreted using the same general rules as are used for other contracts.

5. Contracts: Guaranty: Debtors and Creditors: Words and Phrases. A guaranty is a contract by which the guarantor promises to make payment if the principal debtor defaults.

6. Contracts: Guaranty: Appeal and Error. To determine the obligations of the guarantor, an appellate court relies on general principles of contract and guaranty law.

7. Contracts: Guaranty: Intent Because a guaranty is a contract, it must be understood in light of the parties' intentions and the circumstances under which the guaranty was given.

8. Guaranty: Liability. When the meaning of a guaranty is ascertained, or its terms are clearly defined, the liability of the guarantor is controlled absolutely by such meaning and limited to the precise terms.

9. Contracts: Guaranty: Words and Phrases. A guaranty is a collateral undertaking to answer for the payment of debt or the performance of a contract or duty, and when a guaranty is unambiguous, a court does not vary its terms by construing it with another instrument.

[286 Neb. 30] 10. Guaranty. The undertaking of a guaranty is independent of the promise of the principal obligation.

Petition for further review from the Court of Appeals, Irwin, Pirtle, and Riedmann, Judges, on appeal thereto from the District Court for Dakota County, Paul J. Vaughan, Judge. Judgment of Court of Appeals reversed, and cause remanded with directions.

Jeana L. Goosmann and Anthony L. Osborn, of Goosmann Law Firm, P.L.C., for appellant.

Jeffrey T. Myers for appellees.

Michael K. Sears, pro se.

Heavican, C.J., Connnnolllly, Wright, Stephan, McCormack, and ...


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