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Clark v. Meyer
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
188 F. Supp. 2d 416 (2002)
Rita Clark (plaintiff) owned a painting that she claimed had been appraised for $250,000. In 1989, Clark gave the painting to Catalina Meyer, an art collector, to put up in her home, hoping that an art buyer would see it and want to purchase it. According to Clark, she turned over the painting on the condition that Meyer would insure the painting for $200,000. When Meyer first received the painting, she bought an insurance policy to that effect. At some point, the insurance policy expired. In 1997, a fire broke out in Meyer’s home, killing Meyer and destroying the painting. As Meyer’s policy had expired, the painting was not insured, rendering it a total loss. Clark sued Meyer’s estate (defendant), seeking to recover for breach of contract and other claims. Clark deposed Meyer’s daughter, who was also Meyer’s executrix. The executrix testified that Meyer had told her that she believed the painting to be a fake not worth anything. Clark offered testimony about her own conversations with Meyer surrounding the painting and their alleged agreement. Meyer’s executrix objected to the testimony based on New York’s dead man’s statute. Clark also offered into evidence a 1989 letter from Meyer stating that the painting had been insured and that if anything happened to it, the insurance company would pay Clark in full. Finally, Clark offered a note and signature on Meyer’s insurance binder in Meyer’s handwriting stating, “As per request by owner Rita Clark to be $200,000.” Clark filed a motion for summary judgment.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Kaplan, J.)
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