How would you react to seeing a fly in a water bottle?
June 22, 2007, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
The Supreme Court of Canada has just granted a right to hear the appeal of an Ontario Court of Appeal decision in the matter of Mustapha v. Culligan of Canada Ltd. This is a case where Mr. Mustapha brought a claim for psychological damage against Culligan of Canada because Mr. Mustapha found a dead fly floating in the water bottle he was about to place on the water cooler. As a result of seeing that fly Mr. Mustapha became very ill, including vomiting, and required extensive psychiatric and psychological care. At trial the trial judge found Culligan to be liable for the damages suffered by Mr. Mustapha and awarded him damages totaling approximately $340,000.00. The matter was appeal and the Court of Appeal found that Culligan was not liable to Mr. Mustapha. The Court of Appeal basically stated that one has to take a more objective approach to these types of matter involving psychological harm. The question to be answered is whether it is reasonable to expect or foresee that as a result of the negligence (ie. the fly in the water bottle) that the average person would suffer the type of psychiatric harm that Mr. Mustapha suffered. It would seem that the Court of Appeal felt that Mr. Mustapha’s reaction and psychiatric response were too extreme and not that of the average person in similar circumstances. Culligan was successful on the appeal. The Supreme Court of Canada clearly views the issue of the standard to be applied to psychiatric harm to be the key issue here and therefore worthy of a review by them. The matter will likely be heard in the next 6 to 8 months with a decision some months after that. Stay tuned.
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