by Adeniyi Abdul
A High Court in Port Harcourt has ordered the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) to pay N60 million as special and general damages to two individuals, Keregbe Kpa and Nuka Livingstone who filed a suit against the company after consuming contaminated drinks. The suit which was filed through their counsel, Chigozirim Nwaodu on March 27, 2009 was seeking the sum of N100 million as special and general damages.
“I must state and agree with the claimants’ counsel that whatever may be the case, by the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor, the defendant has the obligation to explain how their products, which vessels underwent a state-of-the-art cleaning processes, acquired foreign objects or particles, that rendered them unsafe for human consumption,” said the presiding judge, Justice Emmanuel Ogbuji.
She also berated NBC’s Quality Assurance Manager, Mrs. Comfort Okere who stated that there was no way to figure out why the products had been contaminated. “In fact, it is absurd that the defendant produces many bottles a day, but its witness stated that she did not know how many bottles are washed daily.” she said. “In her testimony, she said their Port Harcourt plant produces 30,000 crates (720,000 bottles) of soft drinks a day, but did not know how many bottles the defendant wash a day.”
“Wherefore, it is ordered and declared that the defendant was negligent and breached its duty of care to the claimants when it manufactured and caused to be sold to the first claimant soft drinks contaminated with decomposing cockroach and other harmful substances on or about May 17, 2008.”
“The discovery of the said contamination by the guests of the first claimant in a child dedication ceremony he organized for his little daughter on May 18, 2008 and for which the first claimant was derogatorily called ‘an evil or blood money man, money ritualist’ and a similar plasters of infamy by the guests and other persons amounted to the defamation of the claimant or an aggravated embarrassment to him.”