Friday, May 23, 2008

Flies in the Water

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the claim of a man who says that he suffered overwhelming psychiatric trauma upon discovering the presence of a couple of flies in a bottle of water. The basic thrust of the judgment is that while it was fair on his part to expect fly-free water, it was equally reasonable for the water bottling company not to face claims of fly-induced impotence (that is, such claims are not reasonably foreseeable).

There is a certain satisfaction in seeing the final result of this case. One of the most important cases in tort law -- usually studied in the first week of law school -- is Donoghue v. Stevenson. This case concerned whether or not a claim could be made against the manufacturer of some gingerbeer where a snail made its way into a bottle and made drinker of the gingerbeer sick. The House of Lords in dealing with an early attempt to ditch the claim said such a claim was possible, but then we never find out what happens at the end of the saga of the snail in the gingerbeer.

At least we know now for flies in the water.
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