Law School Case Brief
Hanes v. Shapiro & Smith - 168 N.C. 24, 84 S.E. 33 (1915)
Where a bailment is for the benefit of the parties, the bailee is only liable for ordinary neglect, which does not embrace a case of accidental destruction by fire, without default on the part of the bailee.
The buyer purchased furniture from the defendant with a warranty for 12 months against defects as to workmanship and material. The buyer sent the furniture back to the dealer after he received it, claiming the sideboard was defective. While the dealer was making repairs, the furniture was destroyed in a fire. The buyer elected to sue on the warranty, and brought a claim demanding to have his money refunded. The trial court ruled in favor of the plaintiff-buyer in his claim for breach of the warranty. Defendant-furniture dealer appealed the decision of the trial court.
Was a dealer liable for the destruction of a thing, without default on his part, in a contract of bailment constituted for the benefit of both parties?
The court held that the bailment was for the benefit of both parties and consequently, the dealer was bound to use ordinary care with respect to the furniture. The dealer was only liable for ordinary neglect, which did not embrace a case of accidental destruction by fire, without default on the part of the dealer. The court reversed the judgment of the trial court and ordered a new trial in the buyer's claim against the dealer for breach of warranty.
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