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Plutner v. Silver Associates, Inc – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Plutner v. Silver Associates, Inc., 186 Misc 1025, 1028, 61 N.Y.S.2d 594 [1946], a case more analogous to the case at bar, the court held that the defendant bathhouse had no legal duty to offer relief or assistance to an patron who fell and struck his head while descending a stairway on the premises.

The bathhouse employee told the plaintiff to wait while the employee attended another patron, but the plaintiff instead attempted to climb the stairs himself and subsequently passed out (id. at 1026)).

The court went on to distinguish the duties of a premises owner and those of a common carrier:

The plaintiff, however, attempts to spell out liability in this case under the theory that the relationship of the parties or the very nature of the surroundings emphasizes a moral obligation as a result of which a legal responsibility comes about and renders the defendant liable for damages for the failure to furnish such aid and succor. The cases cited in support of this contention are "public carrier" cases such as Middleton v. Whitridge . . . . In this case the only similarity between the bathhouse and a public carrier is that both operate a business which is held out to the general public but the duties and responsibilities vary insofar as the legal obligations of each of these different enterprises are concerned" (id. at 1028) .

The Putnam court goes on to cite a case involving a Turkish bath in which the court held that the defendant owner was not liable for "its failure to supply plaintiff any medical attention after the accident" (id., citing Warren v. Werther, 182 AD 783, 787, 169 N.Y.S. 709 [1918]).