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Ex parte Morrison's Cafeteria of Montgomery, Inc. - 431 So. 2d 975 (Ala. 1983)

Rule:

The pivotal issue in the reasonable expectation test is what is reasonably expected by the consumer in the food as served, not what might be natural to the ingredients of that food prior to preparation. Naturalness of the substance to any ingredients in the food served is important only in determining whether the consumer may reasonably expect to find such substance in the particular type of dish or style of food served.

Facts:

Mrs. Haddox and her three-year-old son, Rodney, were dining at Morrison's Cafeteria of Montgomery, Inc.(“Morrison's) when Rodney choked on a small bone in fish. A suit was brought against Morrison on the theories of implied warranty of fitness for human consumption and the Alabama Extended Manufacturer's Liability Doctrine. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Haddox on a jury verdict against Morrison's. The appellate court affirmed. Petitioner Morrison's sought a writ of certiorari.

Issue:

In a lawsuit by plaintiff restaurant patron who choked on a fishbone, did defendant restaurant violate an implied warranty of fitness for human consumption or the Alabama Extended Manufacturer's Liability Doctrine?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

On certiorari, the Supreme Court of Alabama reversed. The Court held that petitioner Morrison's did not violate an implied warranty of fitness for human consumption or the Alabama Extended Manufacturer's Liability Doctrine when plaintiff Rodney Haddox choked on bone in a filet of fish served by Morrison's because plaintiff should have reasonably expected such a small bone in a filet of fish. Based on the reasonable expectation test, the possibility that the filet contained bones because it is common knowledge that fish have many bones should have been expected. Further, it is commercially impractical to remove all bones from fish in light of the processes used to mass produce filets. Based on specific the circumstances of the case, the court found the one centimeter bone found in the filet of fish being eaten by Rodney did not render the fish unreasonably dangerous; therefore the fish was not unmerchantable or unfit for human consumption.

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