THE Supreme Court has granted Delta Beverages reprieve from paying a whopping $20 000 to a consumer, Onismo Rutsito, who had claimed damages for allegedly consuming a contaminated beverage.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The court ruled in favour of the bottling firm in a protracted dispute between Rutsito and Coca-Cola firm which had been in the courts since 2011.
Rutsito was claiming he consumed a contaminated Coca-Cola beverage in which “a rusting iron nail and blackish foreign substance” had been found upon inspection.
The consumer claimed that as a result, he had suffered stress and anxiety which he wanted the firm to compensate him for.
The civil matter was heard at the High Court before Justice Francis Bere, who after listening to submissions by both parties, ordered Coca-Cola to defend itself and explain why it had allegedly failed to take necessary precautions in the manufacturing process.
The ruling by Justice Bere was then challenged by Delta Beverages lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu, who argued that the judge had erred in his findings by ordering Coca-Cola to give an explanation in a case that had no evidence.
Delta Beverages denied that any harmful foreign particle of any nature was found in the unopened bottle of Coke and further argued that the manufacturing and bottling process made it impossible to produce a beverage that contained a nail.
On Thursday last week Judge of Appeal, Justice Paddington Garwe, in his judgment that was agreed to by Justices Vernanda Ziyambi and Yunus Omerjee, ordered the civil proceedings that were being carried out at the High Court against Delta Beverages to be halted.
“On the facts of this case, no particulars of negligence were alleged or proved. Such failure assumes an important dimension when regard is had to the fact that the appellant (Delta Beverages) is a beverage manufacturer,” Justice Garwe said.
“It is now settled that the liability of a beverage manufacturer or brewery is not absolute. If steps it took to avoid contamination were reasonable, in the sense that nothing more could reasonably been done, then it would not be liable because it would not have been negligent.
“I would agree that at the end of the plaintiff’s case (Rutsito) before the court a quo (which heard the matter), there was no evidence before the court on the state or condition of the bottling equipment used by the appellant (Delta Beverages) . . . there was no evidence that the appellant had failed to take the necessary precautions in the manufacturing process,” he said before ruling in Delta Beverage’s favour.