Jackson v. Nestle-Beich, Inc.

147 Ill. 2d 408, 168 Ill. Dec. 147, 589 N.E.2d 547 (1992)

 

RULE:

The reasonable expectation test provides that, regardless whether a substance in a food product is natural to an ingredient thereof, liability will lie for injuries caused by the substance where the consumer of the product would not reasonably have expected to find the substance in the product.

FACTS:

The injured party purchased a sealed can of the manufacturer's chocolate-covered pecan and caramel candies. When she bit into one of the candies, she allegedly broke a tooth on a pecan shell embedded in the candy. She filed a complaint asserting breach of implied warranty and strict products liability against the manufacturer. In denying the complaint, the lower court concluded that the foreign-natural doctrine should not be followed. The lower court determined that the doctrine was based on the faulty assumption that consumers knew that prepared food products would or might contain whatever any of their ingredients, in a natural state, contained. On appeal, the court of appeals found that the manufacturer should be held liable.

ISSUE:

Should the manufacturer of the candy's be liable to the injured party?

ANSWER:

No

CONCLUSION:

The court agreed with the lower court's conclusion that the foreign-natural doctrine was unsound and should be abandoned. The court instead applied a consumer's reasonable expectations as to the contents test. The court further noted that even if the candy merited classification as an unavoidably unsafe product, the court would nonetheless find it subject to strict liability due to the absence of a warning of the unavoidable risk of injury it posed.

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