On March 27, 2001, Felice Jasphy brought three fur coats to Illana Osinsky's establishment trading as Cedar Lane Furs in Teaneck, New Jersey, for storage and cleaning. The three coats included a ranch mink coat, a Shearling, and a blush mink. In addition to storage of the three coats, Jasphy also sought cleaning of the ranch mink. In 1997, the ranch mink had been appraised for $11,500; the Shearling for $3,500; and the blush mink for $3,995. Jasphy signed a written agreement, labeled "fur storage sales receipt," which included Jasphy's name and address, and the price of the storage and cleaning. On the back of the receipt, the following preprinted provision limiting Cedar Lane Furs' liability read: This receipt is a storage contract, articles listed are accepted for storage until December 31, of dated year, subject to the terms and conditions hereof, in accepting this receipt, the depositor agrees to be bound by all its terms and conditions and acknowledges that this receipt is the entire agreement with the furrier, which cannot be changed except by endorsement herein signed by the furrier. If no value is specified, or if no separate insurance covering the garment is declared at the time of issuance of this receipt, insurance in the amount of $1.00 will be placed on the garment. Immediately above the location on the receipt for a customer's signature, the following was printed: "I understand and agree that Cedar Lane Furs' liability for loss or damage from any cause whatsoever, including their own negligence or that of employees and others, is limited to the declared valuation." Jasphy did not state the value of the coats or declare whether she had separate insurance coverage when the receipt was issued. There is no identifiable room provided on the receipt to specify such information.
The limitation of the furrier's liability was not brought to Jasphy's attention, nor was she asked to furnish the value of her coats for storage. The following day, March 28, 2001, a fire swept through Cedar Lane Furs, causing Jasphy's furs to be completely destroyed. A hot iron, which Cedar Lane Furs' employees apparently forgot to unplug overnight, caused the fire. Jasphy subsequently learned that her furs had not been placed in the fur vault before the fire and were destroyed in the fire. Jasphy filed a claim form with Cedar Lane Furs' insurance company but never received any reimbursement. She then brought suit against Osinsky and Cedar Lane Furs. They contended that their liability was limited by the contract provision to $1 per garment. Should the court enforce the contractual provision limiting the furrier's liability to $1 per garment?

  • CreatedJuly 16, 2014
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