The defendant appealed the decision by the State of Nevada Trail Court which awarded the plaintiff money for his physical and emotional damages after the plaintiff purchased and consumed part of a Squirt soda which contained a dead mouse, hair and dung in the Squirt bottle. In order to hear this case, the state of Nevada adopted the doctrine of strict liability (Cheeseman, 2013 p. 110). The Supreme Court of Nevada awarded the plaintiff $2,500 dollars for his physical and emotional damages (Shoshone Coca-Cola Bottling Company V. Dolinski, 1966 p.859).
There are two issues in this case: “should the state of Nevada judicially adopt the doctrine of strict liability? The evidence of the decomposed mouse found on the bottom of the bottle could have been placed by another party other than the manufacturer or the distribution company. A time lapse exists between the time the bottle was capped off and the time it was placed in the hands of the plaintiff. Much of pursuing party’s injuries could be tied to other variables despite drinking the soft drink. On the other hand, the injuries could have solely come from the drink but to what extent, and “if so, was there a defect in the manufacture of the Squirt bottle that caused the Plaintiff’s injury” (Cheeseman, 2013, p. 111)
The Supreme Court of Nevada did take the doctrine of strict liability. They ruled that Shoshone, the Coca-Cola bottle manufacturer, is held responsible for Dolinski’s defective bottle of coca-cola. The court case was decided in favor of Dolinski given the details of the case. At first, they were leaning towards not holding Shoshone accountable because there was no evidence that the mouse was in the bottle at the time of purchase from the vending machine. However, this is an eye opener on any case that is being presented to the court, the details, proof, and evidence are a key player in a court case. The defendant was confident when bringing this case to the court because of the physical and mental stress he faced after the incident. The plaintiff was able to appeal because of the insufficient evidence and the case was ruled in their favor. In the end, the court adopted the doctrine of strict liability which would allow for the defendant to win this case and holding Shoshone liable.
In regards to the doctrine of strict liability, it “applies to sellers and lessors of products who are engaged in the business of selling and leasing products” (Cheeseman, 2013, pg. 107). Both the manufacturing and distributing companies were held liable under the doctrine. Although one party may have been responsible for being negligent such as the manufacturing having the open bottle exposed and transportation having the sealed bottles, they both share the actions of bringing injury to the plaintiff. The question still exists on how the mouse ended up in the bottle. The testimony of the toxicologist can also bring more questions as to how long the mouse had been in the bottle because it can bring doubts on the data. If the mouse had been in the manufacturing plant, then an inspection may be required to be done at the manufacturing plant.
The tort of negligence assumed to be brought by the Shoshone Coca-Cola Bottling Company does not make them liable to all the claims of injuries to the plaintiff. Dolinski could have been caused by other conditions or by consuming other products depending on the extent of the injuries. Medically, is the evidence able to ensure the injuries were caused by the consumption of the soft drink without a doubt? The possibility still exists of the tampering of the soft drink before the plaintiff drank it. It could have been caused by sick joke from another coworker. The evidence must show full proof of the mouse being found in the drink due to the company.
Legal concepts applied within Business management
Because strict liability is a tort doctrine, privity of contract between the plaintiff and the defendant is not required. In other words, the doctrine applies even if the injured party had no contractual relations with the defendant. Thus, manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and lessors of a defective product are liable to the consumer who purchased the product and any user of the product (Cheeseman, 2013, pg. 109). Companies should be more careful inspecting the products when they receive them from the prior chain of distribution and before passing it to the next level, this way they can correct any problem before the product touches the consumer’s hands. It is true that the mouse got to the Squirt bottler in one of the chain of distribution, but all the others were also negligent for continuing the distribution process.
Cheeseman, H.R. (2013). Business Law: Legal environment, online commerce, business ethics, and international issues (8th ed.) upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Shoshone Coca-Cola Bottling Company V. Dolinski, No. 5112, 420 [P.2d855 (1966) 82 Nev. 439] Available at: http://www.leagle.com/decision/19661275420P2d855_