April 11, 2020

Trimarco v. Klein | Case Brief - 56 N.Y.2d 98, 436 N.E.2d 502 (1982)

FACTS: The Plaintiff was injured when while stepping out of his bathtub the shower door broke. The Plaintiff was unaware it was glass and had assumed it was safety glass. The Defendant never brought that to the Plaintiff's attention. Expert testimony said that from the 1950s it was industry practice not to use glass. By 1976 is was an accepted safety standard. The Defendant's managing agent had made it a practice to replace broken glass door with safety glass or plastic. 

HISTORY: Plaintiff recovered by jury trial verdict of $240,000. Appellate division sharply divided and reversed and dismissed.

ISSUE: Did Plaintiff make out a case with regards to the custom and usage of material other than glass? 

HOLDING: Yes

RATIONALE: "... when proof of a customary practice is coupled with a showing that it was ignored and that this departure was a proximate cause of the accident, it may serve to establish liability." Customary practice need not be universal but just standard in some calling or business. 

DISPOSITION: Order reversed with costs and case remitted to Supreme Court, Bronx County for a new trial with the opinion herein.