Greene v. Sibley

Decision Date15 July 1931
Citation177 N.E. 416,257 N.Y. 190
CourtNew York Court of Appeals Court of Appeals


Action by Elizabeth S. Greene against the Sibley, Lindsay & Curr Company. From a judgment of the Appellate Division (232 App. Div. 53, 248 N. Y. S. 491) affirming by divided court a judgment of the County Court entered on a verdict of a jury in favor of plaintiff, defendant appeals.

Reversed, and complaint dismissed.

POUND and CRANE, JJ., dissenting.

Appeal from Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth department.

Charles S. Wilcox, of Rochester, for appellant.

Eugene Raines, of Rochester, for respondent.


Plaintiff, having made a purchase in the defendant's department store, stood at a counter waiting for her change. While standing there, she turned to her right and saw beside her a mechanic and a floorwalker looking at a cash register which was said to be out of order. Then she turned to her left, and gathered up her change which the shop girl had brought for her. In the meantime, the mechanic had gone down on his knees in order to look up into the mechanism, with the result that his legs stretched back upon the flooring of the aisle. Plaintiff, supposing, so she tells us, that he was standing where he stood before, and meaning to go around him, stumbled over his foot. She suffered injuries for which she sues.

We find no evidence of negligence. The mechanic had been standing by the plaintiff, busy, as she perceived, in the repair of the mechine. She had no thought that he had gone away during the moment or two that had passed in the collection of the change. On the contrary, she supposed, so she says, that he was standing where he was before. ‘I thought I was making a sweep around him standing there.’ The merest glance would have told her that, instead of standing there erect, he was down upon his knees. We do not say that there was contributory negligence on her part in the failure to be more observant of the fact that his attitude had changed. It is quite a different thing to say that there was negligence on his part in the failure to foresee how little observant she would be.

The measure of the defendant's duty was reasonable care. Hart v. Grennell, 122 N. Y. 371, 374,25 N. E. 354;Larkin v. O'Neill, 119 N. Y. 221, 23 N. E. 563. Looking back at the mishap with the wisdom born of the event, we can see that the mechanic would have done better if he had given warning of the change of pose. Extraordinary prevision might have whispered to him at the moment that the warning would be helpful. What the law exacted of him, however, was only the ordinary prevision to be looked for in a busy world. He was doing common and simple act in the plain sight of those around him. The act did not involve a continuing obstruction with the indefinite...

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48 cases
  • Skandia Ins. Co., Ltd. v. Star Shipping As
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Alabama
    • April 5, 2001
    ...only the ordinary prevision to be looked for in a busy world. See Mamiye, 360 F.2d at 780 (citing to Greene v. Sibley, Lindsay & Curr Co., 257 N.Y. 190, 192, 177 N.E. 416, 417 (1931)). Indeed, "hurricanes are erratic phenomena of nature; no two are alike or follow the same track; they cross......
  • Baltimore & O. R. Co. v. Plews
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • June 4, 1971 him at the time, and not by looking backward 'with the wisdon born of the event.' Cardozo, C. J., in Greene v. Sibley, Lindsay & Curr Co., 257 N.Y. 190, 177 N.E. 416 (N.Y.). See also, Martin G. Imbach, Inc., v. Tate, (203 Md. 348, 100 A.2d 808 (1953)).' Id. at 367, 170 A.2d 758, This cas......
  • Carter v. R.L. Jordan Oil Co., Inc.
    • United States
    • South Carolina Court of Appeals
    • September 23, 1987
    ...the danger can be perceived by "looking back at the mishap with the wisdom borne of the event." Greene v. Sibley, Lindsay & Curr Co., 257 N.Y. 190, 192, 177 N.E. 416, 417 (1931) (Cardozo, J.). As a general rule, the owner or operator of a motor vehicle is not liable for an injury resulting ......
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 18, 2003 it was felicitously put by Justice Cardozo, at the mishap with the wisdom born of the event * * *.' [Greene v. Sibley, Lindsay & Curr Co., 257 N.Y. 190, 192, 177 N.E. 416, 417 (1931) Miller cites the following factors as supporting her contention that the accident was reasonably foreseea......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Benjamin N. Cardozo: The Tort Whisperer Nine Decades Later.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 95 No. 5, September 2021
    • September 1, 2021
    ...St. Paul Ins. Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 224 N.Y. 47, 49 (1918) (boat damaged by an explosion); Greene v. Sibley, Lindsey and Curr, Co., 257 N.Y. 190, 191-192 (1931) (shopper fell over (68) Cardozo allegedly tinkered with the facts in other cases. Birmingham, A Study After Cardozo: DeCicco......

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