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The $341,000 Fly?


Just like the McDonald’s coffee case , I’m sure that, though the facts are bizarre, Mr. Mustapha’s injuries are real and quite serious. Here’s what happened, per canada.com:

Mustapha came to Canada from Lebanon in 1976 when he was 16 years old. A decade later, a Culligan Canada representative convinced him to keep a cooler of water in his home, which he was told was particularly beneficial for pregnant women and children. The family bought into the idea in a big way – keeping only Culligan water in their home for the next 15 years.

That all changed in 2001 after the fly incident. Mustapha said he could not get it out of his mind. He said he felt nauseous and suffered abdominal pain. He started avoided all things having to do with water – even drinking it and taking showers. He sought psychological treatment and medication.

“He pictures flies walking on animal feces or rotten food and then being in his supposedly pure drinking water,” [Trial] Justice John Brockenshire, of the Ontario Superior Court, wrote in his 2005 ruling. While acknowledging the reaction seemed to be “objectively bizarre,” Brockenshire stressed that Mustapha’s obsession with cleanliness and predisposed aversion to insects explained his disorder.

At the trial level, Mr. Mustapha was awarded $341,000. Culligan appealed … and won. Mr. Mustapha appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada and … lost.

“I conclude that the loss suffered by the plaintiff was too remote to be reasonably foreseen and that consequently, he cannot recover damages from the defendant,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in the 9-0 ruling.


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