Diner Beware: Restaurant Not Liable For Broken Chair (NY)

A recent premises decision provided a reminder about the importance of holding a plaintiff to proof of notice of a dangerous condition.  In Catalano v. Tanner, the trial court denied the defendant-restaurateur’s motion for summary judgment in a case where a customer was injured when his chair collapsed underneath him.

Plaintiff patronized the defendant’s restaurant for years, going there for breakfast five times per week, and dinning with companions at the same table and in the same chairs.  Defendant testified that she had not received any prior complaints about the chairs, that none of the chairs previously broke, and that the restaurant continues to use the same chairs.  In respect of her inspection practices, defendant claimed that at the close of business every day she wipes down the chairs, and inspects the chairs each month.

The Appellate Division reversed the trial court and held that the defendant’s inspection practices were reasonable and she therefore did not have constructive notice of the alleged defect in the chair.

Thanks to Steve Kaye for his contribution to this post.  If you would like more information, please write to Mike Bono.