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David Gutter Furs v. Jewelers Protection Servs., Ltd., 79 N.Y.2d 1027, 584 N.Y.S.2d 430, 594 N.E.2d 924 (1992) (full-text).

Factual Background[]

Plaintiff, David Gutter Furs, a fur dealer, contracted with the defendant, Jewelers Protection Services, Ltd., to design, install, and monitor a burglar alarm system. Several weeks after the dealer had occupied its new premises, furs worth about $300,000 were stolen in a nighttime burglary, but the alarm did not sound.

Trial Court Proceedings[]

In the dealer’s action for negligence and breach of contract, the company sought summary judgment on the basis of contractual exculpatory and limitation of liability clauses. The dealer, however, claimed that those clauses were unenforceable because the company was grossly negligent, basing his assertion on an expert’s opinion that stated in part that there should have been two motion detectors, instead of one, on each level. Plaintiff claimed that a shock sensor should have been installed, defendant should have ascertained how the inventory would be arranged, and a post-occupancy inspection should have been undertaken. The trial court denied the motion for summary judgment.

Appellate Court Proceedings[]

The appellate court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

State Supreme Court Proceedings[]

The State Supreme Court held that taken together, these allegations did not raise a triable issue of fact whether defendant performed its duties with reckless indifference to plaintiff’s rights. Thus, the contractual exculpatory and limitation of liability clauses were enforceable.