Mandibular symphysis fracture and alveolar fractures, chin laceration extending to subcutaneous layers, some avulsed and some mobile mandibular teeth.
NAME OF CASE: Withheld
AMOUNT OF SETTLEMENT:
ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFF:
Eric J. Parker and Susan M. Bourque, PARKER SCHEER LLP, Boston.
ATTORNEYS FOR DEFENDANT:
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION:
The plaintiff purchased a bottle from a seller in Massachusetts. After attending a fair in Massachusetts, the plaintiff filled the bottle with mango juice to drink on her way home. The plaintiff finished roughly two thirds of the juice, before screwing the top back onto the bottle and placing the bottle in her boyfriend’s backpack.
When the plaintiff arrived home that same day, the plaintiff’s boyfriend placed the backpack under the desk in his office, having forgotten that the bottle was still in the bag where it remained for roughly two weeks. Upon discovering the bottle, the plaintiff’s boyfriend placed it in the couple’s kitchen sink.
The following morning, the plaintiff found the bottle in the sink with its cover still in place. She then attempted to remove the top of the bottle in an effort to wash the bottle but was unable to remove the top. She asked her boyfriend to remove the top, but he too was unable to remove it. After drying her hands, the plaintiff tried once again to remove the top when she heard a hissing sound, whereupon the bottle-top suddenly and with explosive force, ejected from the bottle and struck the plaintiff just below her chin, causing her to bleed profusely from her chin and mouth. She was transported to the hospital for emergency medical treatment.
Once at the E.R., her physicians diagnosed the plaintiff with a mandibular symphysis fracture and alveolar fractures, a chin laceration extending to subcutaneous layers, some avulsed and some mobile mandibular teeth. The plaintiff has undergone several surgeries under general anesthesia to repair her extensive facial fractures. The plaintiff incurred past medical expenses of approximately $110,000.
The plaintiff was prepared to show through forensic expert testimony that the cause of the violent ejection of the bottle top was due to the fermentation of the mango juice in the bottle and the build-up of CO2 gas within the bottle. The bottle was not equipped with a pressure release valve or opening, which would have allowed the gas to escape safely. Instead, the internal pressure reached explosive levels, leading to the violent ejection of the bottle top. The plaintiff was further prepared to offer expert testimony that the subject water bottle failed to contain safety warnings, included in other competing models, that users of the bottle who encounter difficulty opening the bottle should cease all efforts and contact the manufacturer for further instructions. Had the plaintiff been made aware of such risks, the plaintiff would not have attempted to open the bottle after encountering difficulty in opening it.
The plaintiff and the defendant seller agreed to participate in mediation which resulted in a settlement of $1.3M.