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Miller v. Greyvan Lines, Inc.

Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division

May 12, 1954

DAVID MILLER, Respondent,
v.
GREYVAN LINES, INC., et al., Appellants, et al., Defendants.

Page 134

APPEALS from a judgment of the Supreme Court in favor of plaintiff and against defendants Greyvan Lines, Inc., and E. F. Daley, Inc., jointly and severally, for $10,000 plus interest and costs, entered November 18, 1952, in Erie County upon a decision of an Official Referee (ALONZO G. HINKLEY, Off. Ref.). The judgment dismissed the complaint as against another defendant, Greyvan Storage, Inc.

COUNSEL

John E. Leach, Jacob S. Linett and J. Edmund Kelly for Greyvan Lines, Inc., appellant.

Leland G. Davis for E. F. Daley, Inc., appellant.

Edward H. Kavinoky for respondent.

WHEELER, J.

In June of 1947, plaintiff and defendant Greyvan Lines, Inc., entered into an oral agreement to transport and store plaintiff's household goods. The move was from Cleveland, Ohio, where plaintiff then resided, to Buffalo, New York, where the goods were to be stored until called for by Mr. Miller. Greyvan Lines, Inc., insists that this was the entire contract; the plaintiff has testified that the arrangement was more specific in that Greyvan Lines agreed to move his goods from Cleveland to Buffalo and to store them in its own fireproof warehouse in the latter city. It is conceded that the goods, after being packed by representatives of either Greyvan Lines or its subsidiary corporation, Greyvan Storage, Inc., were (with the exception of some rugs) transported to Buffalo by defendant E. F. Daley, Inc., at the instance of Greyvan Lines. It is also undisputed that the goods were placed by the Daley organization in its warehouse at 200 Cherry Street in the city of Buffalo. Established by the record and not disputed upon this appeal is

Page 135

the fact that the warehouse at 200 Cherry Street was not a fireproof warehouse. Plaintiff produced expert testimony in that regard and the secretary of the Daley corporation admitted the fact.

Sometime in the fall of 1947, the plaintiff received a statement for storage from the Daley concern, which he and his wife claim is the first time either of them knew the goods were not stored at the warehouse of Greyvan Lines or Greyvan Storage, Inc. Immediate inquiry was instituted by the plaintiff, who testified he was told by the Buffalo manager of Greyvan Storage, Inc., wholly owned by Greyvan Lines, Inc., that neither Greyvan corporation had a warehouse of any kind in Buffalo at the time plaintiff's goods were shipped there from Cleveland, that Daley often took care of Greyvan's storage, and that plaintiff's goods were as safe in the Daley warehouse as they would be in that of Greyvan Storage, as Daley operated a fireproof warehouse. Having thus assured himself, plaintiff took no further action with regard to the goods.

In August of 1948, the Daley warehouse at 200 Cherry Street was consumed by fire, completely destroying plaintiff's goods. Plaintiff was notified of this loss by registered letter. This action resulted. Greyvan Lines, Inc., and E. F. Daley, Inc., appeal from the judgment for the plaintiff against them for the sum of $10,000, with interest from August 12, 1948.

The Referee to whom the action was referred for trial has found that the plaintiff and defendant Greyvan Lines, Inc., entered into a contract whereby the latter was to move plaintiff's goods from Cleveland to Buffalo and to store those goods in its fireproof warehouse in Buffalo. Without outlining in detail all the evidence bearing on this issue, we find the evidence ample to support that finding. The greater share of the documentary evidence bearing upon this issue buttresses the testimony of the plaintiff regarding the original contract.

There is sufficient evidence to support both the plaintiff's version of the contract for transportation and storage and the finding that Greyvan Lines breached its contract, first, by not placing the goods in its own warehouse in Buffalo, and, secondly, by not storing them in a fireproof warehouse. This breach of the contract is sufficient to hold Greyvan Lines responsible for plaintiff's loss. ( Mortimer v. Otto,206 N.Y. 89; 6 Am. Jur., Bailments,§ 228, pp. 333-334; 56 Am. Jur., Warehouses, § ...


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