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Robinson v. Shapiro

646 F.2d 734 (1981)

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Robinson v. Shapiro

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

646 F.2d 734 (1981)

Facts

Joseph Robinson worked for Modern Sheet Metal, Inc. (Modern) (defendant), which had constructed a heating system and chimney for an apartment building owned by Village Towers Company (defendant). When the chimney was damaged by weather, Robinson was one of the workers called to clean and assess the damage. To get to the chimney, workers had to approach the building’s garage from an alley and climb a staircase. The garage was surround by a wall, but there was a gap in the wall blocked by a makeshift gate. Rather than detaching the gate, the workers used the gate to leverage themselves onto the wall and ultimately onto the garage roof, where the chimney was located. While the workers were coming down after their work, the gate gave way, and Robinson fell, resulting in his death three days later. Rita Robinson (Rita) (plaintiff) sued Village Towers and Modern for wrongful death. Prior to trial, Modern sought the addresses of Village Towers employees, including the building’s superintendent, John Rendo. Village Towers did not respond, and Modern learned the first day of trial that Rendo was no longer the superintendent and that his whereabouts were unknown. Also prior to trial, Modern notified Village Towers that it was going to ask about a statement Rendo made to Robinson. At trial, James Castro, a coworker of Robinson’s, testified that Robinson told the workers that Rendo had told Robinson that Rendo used the garage for his dog to run around and thus they were not to remove the gate to prevent the dog from getting out. The garage’s condition indicated that a dog spent time there. The court admitted the testimony, over Village Towers’ objection, under the residual exception to the hearsay rule. The jury returned a verdict for Rita. Village Towers appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Meskill, J.)

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