Monday, March 25, 2013

Escola v. Coca Cola Bottling Co. of Fresno case brief

Escola v. Coca Cola Bottling Co. of Fresno case brief
24 Cal. 2d 453, 150 P.2d 436 (1944)

Plaintiff waitress brought an action against defendant bottling company to recover for personal injuries resulting from a defective, exploding bottle of carbonated beverage. The company appealed a judgment from the Superior Court of Merced County (California) based on a jury verdict in favor of the waitress. The company asserted that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur was inapplicable and that the evidence was insufficient to support the judgment.

OVERVIEW: The evidence revealed that a bottle of carbonated beverage broke in A waitress's hand. Immediately before the accident, the waitress picked up a case of the beverages and set the case upon a nearby cabinet near a refrigerator. The waitress then proceeded to take the bottles from the case with her right hand, one at a time, and put them into the refrigerator. At trial, the waitress testified that the bottle exploded in her hand after she had placing the fourth bottle about 18 inches from the case.

The court upheld the trial court's judgment. All of the requirements necessary to allow the waitress to rely on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, to supply an inference of negligence, were present.

-Although it was not clear whether the explosion was caused by an excessive charge or a defect in the glass, there was a sufficient showing that neither cause would ordinarily have been present if due care had been used.
-The company had exclusive control over both the charging and inspection of the bottles.
-The court noted that it was a question of fact for the jury as to whether the company produced evidence to rebut the inference of negligence that arose under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur.

Res ipsa loquitur does not apply unless (1) a defendant has had exclusive control of the thing causing the injury and (2) the accident is of such a nature that it ordinarily would not occur in the absence of negligence by the defendant.

OUTCOME: The court affirmed the trial court's judgment.

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