Is a Rule of Proof Applied In Extraordinary Circumstances the Excuse Reliance on An Estimate ?

In Babbitt v. Maraia (157 AD2d 691 [2d Dept 1990]), plaintiff sued for damage to his truck resulting from a collision. At trial, the plaintiff, who has been in the business of auto body repair for 30 years, testified that the cost of repairs, some of which were done by him and some by independent contractors, was approximately $ 6,000. Contrary to the defendant's contention, this testimony was sufficient to establish the reasonable cost of repairs." (Id., at 691-692). The Second Department's approach could be considered consistent with Lafayette v. Gaffney, in that a plaintiff who is in the auto body repair business can provide the "extraordinary circumstances" that the earlier case would allow to "excuse" reliance on an estimate. In any event, the exception establishes that Lafayette v. Gaffney applied a rule of proof rather than a rule of substance.