Description: Action seeking to recover for damage incurred to vehicle stored at repair shop during Hurricane Sandy.
Pietrangelo v. S & E Customize It Auto Corp.
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 05/22/2013 Opinion Opinion issued dismissing action. In this small claims action, claimant alleged that as a result of the defendant’s negligent failure to have flood insurance, she was not fully compensated for damage to her vehicle caused by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy while the vehicle was at the defendant’s vehicle repair shop in Staten Island, New York. The court ruled against claimant, noting that where, as here, a bailment was created, the law in New York is clear that there is no bailee liability for failure to obtain insurance for the bailor’s goods. The court further ruled that claimant’s negligence cause of action was barred by the “act of nature” defense and by the claimant’s failure to establish that defendant was negligent in storing the vehicle. In the course of its decision, the court engaged in what it called “merely intellectual speculation” as to whether global warming or climate change caused Sandy to become a superstorm, stating, “[i]f this is true then the possibility exists that Sandy is not a pure ‘act of nature’ but is the result of human activity.” The court, though leaving this issue for future resolution, indicated that in its view the act of nature defense would still be available because “locating a source of the altered weather pattern might be impossible” and “the proper party or parties could not be identified with any certainty so as to bring them into the court’s jurisdiction.”