Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Weinberg v. Edelstein case brief

Weinberg v. Edelstein case brief summary
110 N.Y. Supp. 2D 806 (1952)

Plaintiff dress retailer brought an action for an injunction to enforce a restrictive covenant in his lease against defendant skirt retailer.

The dress and skirt retailers operated retail stores in the same building. Each of their leases contained covenants restricting what they could sell. The dress retailer claimed the skirt retailer was violating the restrictive covenant by selling matched skirts and blouses because the combination thereby became a dress.


  • The court held that no matter how incongruous to the spheres of lexicography and logic, a matched skirt-and-blouse garment, although identical with a two-piece dress of the same material, did not come within the restriction--and so, theoretically, a "dress" was not a "dress." 
  • In the industry there was a long-established division between houses which manufactured dresses, and sportswear houses which manufactured skirts and blouses. 
  • The court found the language used in the covenant did not require the skirt retailer to ignore the almost universal trends in the sportswear industry, even though the garments he sold tended to resemble the apparel sold by the dress retailer. 
  • If the restrictive covenant had not merely employed the generic and ambiguous term of "dress," but clearly forbade the sale of "blouse and skirt combinations," the conclusion could have been different.

The court denied the dress retailer's application for an injunction to prevent the skirt retailer from selling skirt and blouse combinations. The court ordered that the skirt retailer could not compel the purchase of a skirt and blouse combination as a unit, and was to permit the purchase by his customers of skirts and blouses separately or together, as the customer wished--and in any case, each at an individual price.

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