Ventricelli v. Kinney System Rent a Car, Inc.
45 N.Y.2d 950, 411 N.Y.S.2d 555, 383 N.E.2d 1149, modified, 46 N.Y.2d 770, 413 N.Y.S.2d 655, 386 N.E.2d 263 (1978)

  • Ventricelli rented a car from Kinney that had a defective trunk latch. He and a friend were standing on the street, trying to get the parked car’s trunk shut when someone named Maldonado crashed his car into Ventricelli.
  • Ventricelli sued Kinney for negligence.
    • Ventricelli argued that if Kinney’s car didn’t have a defective trunk, he wouldn’t have been standing there to get hit by Maldonado.
    • Ventricelli probably sued Maldonado too, but Moldonado probably didn’t have any money, so Ventricelli was looking for someone else to pay for his medical bills.
  • The Trial Court found for Ventricelli and awarded him $550k. Kinney appealed.
  • The Appellate Court reversed and dismissed the case. Ventricelli appealed.
  • The New York Supreme Court affirmed the Appellate Court and dismissed the case.
    • The New York Supreme Court found that, while Kinney’s negligence was a contributing cause of the accident, it was not the proximate cause.
    • The Court found that it was foreseeable that Ventricelli would have to spend time getting the trunk closed, However, it was not foreseeable that this would expose him to getting hit by a car.
      • Ventricelli could have theoretically been standing behind the car for a number of reasons.
  • In a dissent it was argued that Kinney’s negligence increased the time that Ventricelli would have to spend exposed to possibly getting hit by a car, and therefore Kinney increased the probability of Ventricelli getting injured.
  • Basically, the Court found for Kinney in this case because they realized that getting hit by a car isn’t normally a consequence of closing a trunk. You are only liable for things that are foreseeable.
    • On the other hand, getting your hand caught in the truck is a foreseeable consequence of a defective truck latch. If Kinney’s negligence resulted in Ventricelli slamming his hand in the trunk, they would probably be held liable for that injury.