An accident while using a Jakob Winter case

March 9, 2015 at 06:24 PM · I had a horrendous accident yesterday when, walking to a rehearsal venue, my violin fell out of a (couple of weeks old) Jakob Winter case on to the concrete floor. I've played the instrument for 30 years and used various cases, and never made the mistake of mis-locking. And I had been walking for about 10 minutes at this point, so I know it wasn't my error that caused the accident. The violin suffered a broken neck and a crack, relatively minor damages considering the enormity of the accident. Now I want to sue the Jakob Winter company for the carelessness in their locking system, despite their 120 year long history in the industry. But I'm working in Korea at the moment, so how do I sue a German company? I'd be grateful for any pointers!

Replies (38)

March 9, 2015 at 07:42 PM · When you purchased the case, did you read the terms and conditions of sale?

Terms and Conditions of Sale

March 9, 2015 at 07:50 PM · Unless you can show that the locking device itself is truly defective from the factory, I'm sorry to say that I think you will have a very difficult time prosecuting your case.

Is there only a single clasp for ensuring closure?

March 9, 2015 at 08:39 PM · You would be best served to seek legal counsel in Germany.

By necessity, there are liability limits set in place by some legal systems for things like this. It's extremely likely that any lawsuit would be limited to a defective case, and not to its contents. Depending on the country's laws, it's highly unlikely that a case maker could be financially responsible for an item that they did not put inside it.

Also, there is a big difference between gross negligence and a simple defective case. How does one prove that the maker was negligent? Did all the latching systems fail? Any lawsuit would require you to prove that you used all the latches/zippers/velcro properly and that they all failed.

March 9, 2015 at 08:47 PM · How did this happen? At the very least the case should have a latch and a zippered cover. Even if the latch failed, the zipper should have prevented the case from opening significantly. (And many case covers have additional buttons or velcro that secure the cover closed.) Plus most suspension cases also have a neck strap that further secures the violin.

March 9, 2015 at 09:16 PM · And if in doubt tie a strap around the case, and then you have visual reassurance that it is secure.

March 10, 2015 at 01:02 AM · Out of curiosity. ..which model was it?

March 10, 2015 at 03:12 AM · I am sorry to hear about the accident. This is every violinist's nightmare. I hope that the crack is not of the sound post type and that repair will be successful and not too costly.

Not a legal expert, but think that your chances in court would be higher if you are not the only one. You need to consider the worst case scenario - high legal costs and lost case. Is it worth it?

March 10, 2015 at 07:33 AM · I'm sorry to hear about your violin.

And I agree, it would be helpful to know which model you've used. A case with zipper and neck strap: not a chance. One without zipper and neck strap, but with two clasps: It should be very difficult to proof that both were correctly (!) closed and still opened simultaneously.

March 10, 2015 at 10:30 AM · I hope your violin is insured. I just finished a new top for a viola I made in 2013 that suffered an accident.

March 10, 2015 at 04:19 PM · I am not familiar with Winter cases, but I do know that some case manufacturers, including major ones, have dispensed with the neck tie or velcro, relying sometimes on a pad in the lid over the neck to keep the violin place, sometimes not even that. On what are supposed to be professional cases.

That is a serious design flaw, because if the case pops open the violin will tumble out. At the same time, this may be considered self-evident to the buyer, and therefore accepted at the time of purchase, so I don't think that a suit for damages on this basis can be easy. Assuming this is the issue, of course.

March 10, 2015 at 07:03 PM · I agree, the neck tie is such a simple but serviceable feature, I can't understand why this is less important than the stupid, useless blankets that come with every case nowadays.

I hope your violin comes through its repair okay.

Concerning liability, anyone can write "we are not liable for your loss" on a piece of paper, but any such thing can be tested in court. But, you better be prepared to spend a lot of money not only on your own legal fees, but also those of the defendants, who may counter-sue you for theirs.

March 10, 2015 at 07:39 PM · Ugh, what a nightmare! : (

March 10, 2015 at 08:18 PM · Actually, Paul, a padded blanket that keeps it's shape and stays in place is rather useful.

It is often the only barrier between the violin belly and the bows, should the violin rise up or rotate on its lengthwise axis in a fall or bump. The more padded, the better, as long as it doesn't create pressure on the bridge.

March 10, 2015 at 09:35 PM · I don't use the neck restraint. I see it as a liability. If you ever rushed to pick up the violin without undoing it, you could do damage (and I've seen this happen). The blanket is very useful for protecting the body of the violin from the bows.

March 10, 2015 at 09:45 PM · I lost my beloved Musafia case blanket in some motel room. k. I ended up making my own by drawing a cardboard template, tracing It on matching velvet, and sewing it together with polyester batting in the middle. I do feel my violĂ­n has more protection from the bows if they should somehow become unsecured.

March 11, 2015 at 01:07 AM · If you want a doubly safe case, you can simply buy one of these:

http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&alt=web&id=121315666821

The handle is made of two loops, each of which goes to each side of the case. You can have it totally unlatched and unzipped, but by holding the two loops, you prevent opening.

I actually have one of these, and it's rather nice. And it functions as described above.

March 11, 2015 at 02:33 AM · Very sorry this happened to you. Between locks, latches, flaps that snap close & zippers, most cases have either

1) multiples of one of those things (e.g. 2 locks)

or

2) more than one of those things (e.g. 1 lock & 1 zipper)

are you saying your case has just the one lock or you just weren't using all the options?

March 11, 2015 at 03:50 AM · I dont see how my bows are going to be flying around inside my violin case, but I guess anything can happen in the violin world. With a little creativity one can envision a plethora of blanket mishaps. Tearing away the blanket to get at one's violin in a big hurry and it gets snagged on something and ur fiddle is torn asunder. Blankie folds over on itself creating a small spot thats too thick and crushes the bridge, etc. All my case blankets are in a bag in the closet. If you need one lemme know.

March 11, 2015 at 06:37 AM · Think of it like driving your car. If when you sit behind the wheel you close the door all the way and lock it, put the seat at the proper height and distance from the steering, make sure your mirrors are correcty oriented and buckle your seat belt, your are at much less risk of accident and possible injury than if you just jump in and drive off.

Violins should likewise always be carefully put into the case and taken out, making correct use of all safety features the case offers, otherwise it increases risk of damage.

March 11, 2015 at 02:25 PM · That's a good analogy!

I don't expect my bows to jump around...but sometimes the spinner is loose...and the bow isn't secure.

However, the blanket also protects from rosin dust getting on the violin, etc.

I've never had a blanket bunch up...they are quite 'solid'. I'd be more worried about a silk bag bunching up...and even then I doubt it's an issue.

March 11, 2015 at 03:07 PM · Folks worried about rosin dust going from their bows to their violins inside the case, okay, I guess that's possible, but aren't most violinists practically competing with one another to see who can use less rosin? ("Oh, I don't use much, I only take a few strokes of rosin every other month", that kind of thing.) And look around at your next orchestra rehearsal, and you'll see violin cases that are absolutely filthy inside, they never get vacuumed. And the same people are handling their violins like butchers, getting fingerprints all over the bouts, hanging their bows from their music stands, etc. Frightful.

March 11, 2015 at 05:52 PM · I love my blankets and my modern cases.

My old Knilling came in one of those plastic grey things with the metal running along the edge.

The bow holder was a flat bent piece of metal covered in the same material as the lining. This was held to the case with a Philips head screw.

The old chin rest was Bakelite and the high point on the left became chipped over time from the screw. When I figured out what was happening I bought a better case and a new chin rest.

Still have the case, with a newer violin, and lots of chin rest.

One of my blankets has a big white strip where the hair of one of the bows touches it. I can occasionally feel the bows move when I open the case.

Plus, if I have to put the violin on a hard surface I use the blanket.

March 11, 2015 at 07:05 PM · So sorry to hear about this accident. Here is another suggestion: write to the manufacturer and describe what happened, including the age of the case and account of the precautionary measures you took when closing the case. Ask for compensation, maybe the amount it cost to repair the violin. Send the letter registered or return receipt requested, so they are alerted to the fact that you are keeping a paper trail. At the very least you are alerting them to a potential defect in their cases, and they might well give you some compensation, maybe not what you are asking for, but something. It is a lot less expensive and stressful than filing a lawsuit, and I agree with others that the legal case would probably be difficult (but I'm not a lawyer, just thinking what I would do in a similar situation).

March 11, 2015 at 07:55 PM · The blanket is there for your precious "baby" violin. You are supposed to secure the violin in the case, lay the blanket lightly over the violin, tuck it in around the sides, saying gently: "and who is my good little violin? That's right...YOU are my precious little moopsy-whoopsie....a coochie, coochie, coo!..."

Stuff like that.

March 11, 2015 at 08:05 PM · I need to see this for myself. Do you have a video Seraphim? ;)

March 11, 2015 at 09:35 PM · I'm with Paul. I find blankets to be nothing but annoyances and have never seen evidence of one preventing any kind of damage. I designed and built my own double case. The bows cannot fall onto the fiddles. There is clearance for bridge and chin rest. It has two latches that work and is about 20 years old. I do a lot of repair work and have yet to see another case that I would trade mine for.

March 12, 2015 at 01:24 AM · Besides, rosin dust on your violin is good, but only if it's absurdly expensive rosin that comes 2 years after you order it.

March 12, 2015 at 06:27 AM · Let's be a bit courteous...I'll would take great value on any advice from Mr. Musafia's personally. I find blankets protective and useful, and my instrument is my baby. Aren't yours too?

I can only imagine the violin case involved in this accident doesn't have the neck strap - to which I find it incredulous that 1) there are cases still designed without it, and 2) people would buy it, considering so many people I know including myself have an irrational fear of the case opening up and instrument falling off. Very sorry to hear it happen!

March 12, 2015 at 02:04 PM · What happens after a little while? You go to a rehearsal, you open your case, take off the blanket and set it down next to your case, and oops, your blanket falls on the floor. (Who hasn't dropped his or her blanket?) Thereby it picks up a few grains of gritty dust that you can't see. Now that blanket goes back in your case where it rubs against the varnish all the while you are carrying your case around. Remember that one of the purposes of "suspension" cases is to minimize the amount of fabric that is constantly in contact with your violin's finish. My point is that for every such device one needs to evaluate not only the risks the device is meant to deflect, but those it might cause. You may insist that you keep your blanket perfectly clean, and I can insist that I keep my bow spinners in good repair.

I intend no disrespect whatsoever to Mr. Musafia, and I would dearly love to have one of his beautiful and sturdy cases. But he is both a craftsman and a businessman. And he knows his sales would plummet if he did not offer products with all of the "standard" features that people are looking for in a luxury product, and then some. He would be foolish to claim, in an open forum, that blankets serve no positive purpose because then it would seem rather silly to offer them with his products.

March 12, 2015 at 02:32 PM · Mr. Musafia is making perfectly good sense. No need to impugn his integrity for stating the rather obvious advantages of a blanket. Nobody is obliged to use the blanket that is so thoughtfully included with the case. But who on earth would tear so violently at a blanket in order to get at their violin, as suggested earlier, that they might damage the instrument? Some kind of therapy would surely be in order!

March 12, 2015 at 02:34 PM · I like instrument blankets, although I prefer them with a velcro attachment to the case, precisely so that it doesn't fall to the floor or otherwise tempt fate to be accidentally lost. (This is the one feature that I really wish my Musafia Aeternum had.)

What I don't like are instrument bags. I'm always nervous that I'm going to drop the instrument when putting it in a bag, and it doesn't really seem necessary.

March 12, 2015 at 02:38 PM · When I was a child...my violin rattled around in it's violin-shaped case. On my own I decided this was not a good idea. So I kept it in an old, well washed, soft cotton pillow case.

That solved the problem.

However...I much prefer a 'modern' oblong case with the blanket. it looks better and is more convenient. Win-win!

I don't think I've ever dropped a blanket on a gritty floor...although I still might, lol.

And I don't like the bag idea either. I used one...but I can see the potential for more 'oopsies' when you use one.

My point is...the violin should be secure in the case. I don't suppose it matters how fussy you want to get with all...as long as its secure.

p.s. And by secure, I mean that you remember to make sure the latch/es are all closed...and any zippers all zipped up.

March 12, 2015 at 03:24 PM · I like my blanket, too. For the past 15 years not one "blanket mishap" has occurred. I see no reason why it should be dropped all the time or why I should damage my violin when taking the blanket off. I neither tear at the blanket nor do I jerk my violin mindlessly out of its case without opening the neck tie first (as suggested above). Even a rush to grab it cannot be an excuse for carelessness in handling my instrument.

March 12, 2015 at 04:38 PM ·

March 13, 2015 at 12:33 AM · This is one of those discussions when the original poster opens his/her soul, stirs the discussion (about blanket?!) and never comes back.... I am just echoing an open d string.

March 13, 2015 at 02:21 AM · It's really been terrific fun, after all.

Seraphim, I had that in mind too. That really nails it. LOL

March 13, 2015 at 12:14 PM · As for carrying a violin case, I was always taught to extend my index finger down over the lid of the case so that if it happened to fly open, my index finger was supporting it, 99% of the time this happens because of user error, simply forgetting to latch the case, unless you're dealing with one of those antique coffin cases, in which case the latch can pop open at any time.

March 13, 2015 at 01:22 PM · While we're on Linus, anyone know anything about the original "Song of Linus" referred to by Herodotus (I think)? Someone in a letter to a paper claims to have heard it, but the internet yields no secrets about it.

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