Havas v. Victory Paper Stock Co., Inc.

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtFUCHSBERG; JASEN and JONES; COOKE
Citation49 N.Y.2d 381,426 N.Y.S.2d 233
Parties, 402 N.E.2d 1136 Leslie HAVAS et al., Appellants, v. VICTORY PAPER STOCK CO., INC., Defendant and Third-Party Plaintiff-Respondent. Morgan Guaranty Trust Co., Third-Party Defendant-Respondent.
Decision Date14 February 1980

Page 233

426 N.Y.S.2d 233
49 N.Y.2d 381, 402 N.E.2d 1136
Leslie HAVAS et al., Appellants,
v.
VICTORY PAPER STOCK CO., INC., Defendant and Third-Party
Plaintiff-Respondent.
Morgan Guaranty Trust Co., Third-Party Defendant-Respondent.
Court of Appeals of New York.
Feb. 14, 1980.

Page 234

Henry G. Miller and Lawrence T. D'Aloise, Jr., White Plains, for appellants.

Robert L. Horkitz, New York City, for defendant and third-party plaintiff-respondent.

Page 235

Bertram W. Eisenberg, Liberty, for third-party defendant-respondent.

OPINION OF THE COURT

FUCHSBERG, Judge.

This is an appeal from an order of the Appellate Division which reversed on the law two judgments, one in favor of the plaintiff, Leslie Havas, against the defendant, Victory Paper Stock Company, and the other in favor of Victory, as third- plaintiff, against Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, as third-party defendant. Both followed a trial by jury, which besides passing on liability and damages, also apportioned the damages as between Victory and Morgan. The order of reversal also dismissed the complaint. Raised before us in the main are questions relating to the roles of Judge and jury in a negligence suit.

The facts are essentially undisputed. Havas' employer, Morgan, had an ongoing arrangement with Victory for the latter to remove bales of wastepapers as they accumulated at the Morgan offices at Wall and Broad Streets in New York City. The bales were bulky. They would weigh as much as a thousand pounds each. The transfer from Morgan to Victory usually was effected by means of a hydraulic forklift which Morgan's men, working under Havas' supervision, would use to mechanically raise the bales from the sidewalk to the level of the platform of a Victory flatbed truck, a point at which the latter's driver would assume control of their placement.

On the day of the accident, however, the lift was out of commission. Rather than send the truck back empty, Havas' superior, over his objection, devised an ad hoc method of loading the truck. It required certain Morgan employees to position a 10-foot wooden ramp so that it bridged the gap between the sidewalk and the horizontal edge of the bed of the truck, which was three feet above ground level. The bottom of this ramp had no footings or other provision to prevent it from sliding; nor did the top of the ramp, though its lip overlapped the edge of the truck floor, have any built-in device by which it and the truck could be secured to one another. The unsecured and unfastened ramp was then used as a runway up which Morgan employees were manually to move the heavy bales to the truck platform, from which the Victory driver would add a pulling force exerted by means of a heavy iron hook with which he would spear the bales as they approached the top.

This modus operandi apparently was followed without untoward incident as to two bales. But the third turned out to be another matter. Whether due to the great weight of the particular bale or the steepness of the incline of the ramp up which it had to travel, the Morgan crew that was handling the sidewalk end of the operation was experiencing great difficulty in moving it. Noticing their predicament, Havas and another Morgan employee, both of whom happened to be in the vicinity but neither of whom had participated in manipulating the other bales, reacted spontaneously by coming to the assistance of the others. They did so by stepping onto the ramp and there adding their own manpower to the struggle to push the bale toward its intended destination. While engaged in these efforts, and at a time when they and the other Morgan employees had brought the bale to a point at which the Victory driver had already applied his hook to it, the unattached ramp slipped away from the truck and crashed to the ground along with Havas.

Since the articles of property which played some role in this episode the ramp, the truck, the bale and the hook were owned by or were in the control of either Victory or Morgan or both, and the only persons who figured in it were employees of either one or the other, conceptually any possible suit of negligence would have to be lodged against Morgan, Victory or possibly their employees. Presumably at least in part because a third-party suit ordinarily will not lie against one's own employer or

Page 236

fellow servant (see Workers' Compensation Law, §§ 11, 29, subd. 6), plaintiff elected to bring its action against Victory alone, and it was that defendant, not inhibited by the bar...

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77 practice notes
  • Banco Multiple Santa Cruz, S.A. v. Moreno, No. 08–CV–1271 (JG)(ALC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • 31 Agosto 2012
    ...and skill to avoid such danger.” Lauer, 95 N.Y.2d at 109, 711 N.Y.S.2d 112, 733 N.E.2d 184 (quoting Havas v. Victory Paper Stock Co., 49 N.Y.2d 381, 386, 426 N.Y.S.2d 233, 402 N.E.2d 1136 (1980)). “Under New York law, a breach of contract will not give rise to a tort claim unless a legal du......
  • Rosenfeld v. Lenich, 17-CV-7299 (NGG) (PK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • 1 Marzo 2019
    ...the person or property of the other, a duty arises to use ordinary care and skill to avoid such danger. Havas v. Victory Paper Stock Co., 49 N.Y.2d 381, 426 N.Y.S.2d 233, 402 N.E.2d 1136, 1138 (1980) (citation omitted). New York courts "have been cautious ... in extending liability to defen......
  • Vumbaca v. Terminal One Grp. Ass'n L.P., No. 11–CV–5535.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • 20 Abril 2012
    ...person or property of the other, a duty arises to use ordinary care and skill to avoid such danger.” Havas v. Victory Paper Stock Co., 49 N.Y.2d 381, 426 N.Y.S.2d 233, 402 N.E.2d 1136, 1138 (1980). The court's power to modify this rule “is reserved for very limited situations.” Stagl, 52 F.......
  • In re Air Crash Near Clarence Ctr. New York, on February 12, 2009, No. 09–md–2085.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • 18 Julio 2011
    ...reasonably-prudent-person standard of care to determine whether Defendants breached their duties. See Havas v. Victory Paper Stock Co., 49 N.Y.2d 381, 426 N.Y.S.2d 233, 402 N.E.2d 1136, 1138–39 (1980). Plaintiffs generally allege that Defendants' negligent acts included hiring, training, an......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
77 cases
  • Banco Multiple Santa Cruz, S.A. v. Moreno, No. 08–CV–1271 (JG)(ALC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • 31 Agosto 2012
    ...and skill to avoid such danger.” Lauer, 95 N.Y.2d at 109, 711 N.Y.S.2d 112, 733 N.E.2d 184 (quoting Havas v. Victory Paper Stock Co., 49 N.Y.2d 381, 386, 426 N.Y.S.2d 233, 402 N.E.2d 1136 (1980)). “Under New York law, a breach of contract will not give rise to a tort claim unless a legal du......
  • Rosenfeld v. Lenich, 17-CV-7299 (NGG) (PK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • 1 Marzo 2019
    ...the person or property of the other, a duty arises to use ordinary care and skill to avoid such danger. Havas v. Victory Paper Stock Co., 49 N.Y.2d 381, 426 N.Y.S.2d 233, 402 N.E.2d 1136, 1138 (1980) (citation omitted). New York courts "have been cautious ... in extending liability to defen......
  • Vumbaca v. Terminal One Grp. Ass'n L.P., No. 11–CV–5535.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • 20 Abril 2012
    ...person or property of the other, a duty arises to use ordinary care and skill to avoid such danger.” Havas v. Victory Paper Stock Co., 49 N.Y.2d 381, 426 N.Y.S.2d 233, 402 N.E.2d 1136, 1138 (1980). The court's power to modify this rule “is reserved for very limited situations.” Stagl, 52 F.......
  • In re Air Crash Near Clarence Ctr. New York, on February 12, 2009, No. 09–md–2085.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • 18 Julio 2011
    ...reasonably-prudent-person standard of care to determine whether Defendants breached their duties. See Havas v. Victory Paper Stock Co., 49 N.Y.2d 381, 426 N.Y.S.2d 233, 402 N.E.2d 1136, 1138–39 (1980). Plaintiffs generally allege that Defendants' negligent acts included hiring, training, an......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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