September 25, 2012 | Former NYS Supreme Court Justice Leonard L. Finz
Under our civil law, the plaintiff has the burden of proof to establish by a fair preponderance of the credible evidence that the injury sustained resulted through the negligence of the storekeeper defendant. The law also recognizes there are those cases where the instrumentality that caused the injury was within the sole knowledge and exclusive control of the defendant. That being the case, there is a specific rule of evidence known as res ipsa loquitor (meaning “the thing speaks for itself”), which once raised by the plaintiff shifts the burden to the defendant owner to offer credible proof that the instrumentality that caused the injury was either not dangerous in its ordinary use, or that the instrumentality did not cause the injury claimed (or some other defense). A recent case, Bonfante v. Mane, Inc., reported in the New York Law Journal on June 26, 2012 (Nassau County, Justice Galasso), is in point. There, a patron visited a salon for a massage. She was placed on the table and when the masseuse used hand pressure on her, the table tipped, causing her to fall and sustaining injury. Presented with those facts, the Court ruled that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor was applicable and directed that the defendant store keeper was negligent as a matter of law, thereafter setting the case down for an assessment of damages by a jury.
Continue Reading: A StoreKeeper’s Negligence when the Instrumentality that Causes Personal Injury is in the Sole Knowledge and Control of the Storekeeper
Additional Info: Accidents