This case is about a runaway pretzel cart.
It came before me recently as a Small Claims arbitrator in Civil Court.
Jesus Diaz, the plaintiff (the “claimant” in Small Claims lingo) is a Latin man with an almost impenetrable Spanish accent.
The defendant is a small garage in midtown New York City. Jimmy Pappas said that he is the owner of the garage where the incident took place.
Jimmy made it seem as if the whole case was a big joke. I suspected that he did this as a defensive tactic, bewilderment or because he was nervous.
It happened on a Saturday, in a part of the city where many small factory lofts (garment sewing, furriers, stuffed toys) are located.
Mr. Diaz worked for a loft manufacturer across the street. He said that when he left work that afternoon, he saw an unattended pretzel cart come out of the garage, roll across the sidewalk, leap the curb and strike his car door, badly denting it.
Mr. Diaz presented a paid bill for the repair of his car door for $750.00.
Mr. Pappas strongly denied any responsibility. He said that the garage merely rents space to many cart operators who pay a monthly rental fee, and take their carts out themselves.
He said that the incident was the fault of the cart owner and not the garage, since the garage did not have any staff and never moved any cart from its assigned space.
He admitted however that the garage door was directly in front of the place where Diaz’s car was parked, and the door was not as wide as a second garage door (about 10 yards away) which they used for parking cars and trucks.
I asked Jimmy about parking on the street. He said that parking was legal on the entire block on Saturday.
I asked him if there was a curb cut opposite the garage door across from where Diaz’s car was parked. He said that there was no curb cut and no notice about traffic from the garage.
To see my decision, click on the link below – Decision