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Greene v. Boddie-Noell Enters. - 966 F. Supp. 416 (W.D. Va. 1997)

Rule:

To prove a case of products liability in Virginia, a plaintiff must show that a product had a defect which rendered it unreasonably dangerous for ordinary or foreseeable use. In order to meet this burden, a plaintiff must offer proof that the product violated a prevailing safety standard, whether the standard comes from business, government, or reasonable consumer expectation.

Facts:

In this products liability case, Katherine Greene contends that she was badly burned by hot coffee purchased from the drive-through window of Hardee's restaurant, when the coffee spilled on her after it had been handed to her by the driver of the vehicle, her boyfriend, Chris Blevins. Hardee's restaurant operator moves for summary judgment on the ground that Greene cannot show a prima facie case of liability.

Issue:

Was Hardee’s restaurant liable for injuries to patron Greene, who alleged that she was badly burned by hot coffee purchased through the drive-through window?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The court held that in order to prevail, Greene had to show that the coffee had a defect which rendered it unreasonably dangerous for ordinary or foreseeable use and that she had to offer proof that the coffee violated a prevailing safety standard, whether that standard came from business, government, or reasonable consumer expectations. The court found that the coffee had to be sold hot enough to be palatable to consumers, even though it could burn other parts of the body. Greene failed to show that restaurant had breached a recognizable standard and, thus, the court granted the motion for summary judgment.

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