Farber v. Smolack
New York Court of Appeals
20 N.Y.2d 198, 229 N.E.2d 36, 282 N.Y.S.2d 248 (1967)
In April 1960, Robert Smolak (defendant) loaned his station wagon to his brother, Arthur Smolak (defendant), for a family trip from New York to Florida. All of the Smolaks were residents of New York. While driving back from Florida with his wife and children, Arthur encountered problems with the car pulling to the right. He stopped to have the car serviced in North Carolina. Afterward, Arthur continued to have issues controlling the car, which progressively worsened. He failed to stop even after losing control of the car. He later lost control again while still in North Carolina, and the car overturned, killing his wife and injuring his two children. Morris Farber (plaintiff), as administrator for one of the children, Kenneth Smolak, filed an action in New York against Robert as the owner and Arthur as the negligent driver of the car. Under New York law, the driver’s negligence was imputed to the owner. North Carolina law presumed that the driver’s negligence was imputed to the owner, but this presumption could be overcome by evidence to the contrary, such as by showing that the owner received no benefit from the trip. Applying North Carolina law, the trial court dismissed the action, and the appellate court affirmed. Farber appealed to the New York Court of Appeals. [Editor’s Note: The Court of Appeals is New York’s highest court.]
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bergan, J.)
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