Monday, November 11, 2013

H.R. Moch Co. v. Rensselaer Water Co. case brief

H.R. Moch Co. v. Rensselaer Water Co. case brief summary
159 N.E. 896 (N.Y. 1928)

In a negligence action, plaintiff warehouse owner challenged a decision from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in the Third Judicial Department (New York), which was entered in favor of defendant water company, asserting that defendant was negligent for failing to provide enough water during a city fire.


A large fire occurred in which plaintiff owner's warehouse was substantially damaged. During the fire, defendant water company ran out of supplies, and plaintiff contended that such a mistake resulted in increased damages to his building. Accordingly, litigation ensued where plaintiff sought negligence damages on a theory that defendant breached its duty of care within the presiding city.


At the trial level, defendant's motion to dismiss was denied. The intermediate appellate court reversed, holding that a duty existed between defendant and the city, but plaintiff had no privity in the relationship.

The court affirmed on the basis that under N.Y. Transp. Corp. Law § 81, defendant was never intended to be held liable for incidental damages from performing its services.


The court affirmed the judgment from the intermediate appellate court on the grounds that defendant water company was never statutorily intended to be responsible for incidental damages arising from its obligation to supply a city with water during fires.

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