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.
SENIOR COURT REPORTER
The court ruled in favour of the bottling firm in a protracted dispute between Rutsito and Coca-Cola firm which had been at the courts since 2011.
Rutsito claimed that 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 judge 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 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 confirmed 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,” he added.