1. What court decided the case in the assignment?
Court of Appeals of Ohio, First District, Hamilton County.
2. According to the case, what must a party establish to prevail on a motion for summary judgment? In order to prevail on a motion for summary judgment, a movant has the burden to demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact remains to be litigated, that is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, and that it appears from the evidence, when viewed most strongly in favor of the nonmoving party, that reasonable minds can come to but one conclusion and that conclusion is adverse to the non-moving party. In this case, the movant would be the Nadel family.
3. Briefly state the facts of this case.
The child, Christopher Nadel, was suffered second-degree burns on his right foot as a result of spilled hot coffee. The Nadel’s raised the below claims: a. Breach of a warranty of merchantability and breach of a warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. Both are based on the allegation that the coffee was too hot to consume. b. Product liability for a defective product and a failure to warn of the dangers of handling liquid served as hot as appellee’s coffee c. Negligence both failing to instruct employees how to properly serve hot coffee and for failing to warn business invitees of the danger of handling coffee at the the temperature Burger King coffee was served. The main issue is not whether the coffee is hot or not, but whether the coffee was so exceedingly hot that serving it without a warning of unforeseen danger. Spilled coffee is a foreseeable circumstance from going through a drive through. It was undetermined if temperature the coffee was served at was too hot. It was determined there was no breach of warranty, there was not adequate warning about the product and there was no negligence as far as the emotional damage was concerned.
4. According to the case, why was this not a case of negligent infliction of emotional distress? Negligent infliction of emotional distress is a claim based upon the negligence of one party creating actionable emotional distress in another. In this case, Christopher’s grandmother and grandfather are the ones making claims for negligent emotional distress and the evidence provided was: a. The grandmother was “worried”. This is not enough to seek psychological treatment b. The grandfather statement that while receiving psychological treatment for depression resulting from his divorce and stress and then the incident came up. The incident did not contribute to seeking or receiving counseling. Also, looking into the elements to claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress for such case will not be sufficient as Burger king did not cause the burn intentionally and burger king conduct was not outrageous and the result was not cause of emotional distress. Conclusion, not enough evidence to support the negligent infliction of emotional distress claim.
5. What tort did the court approve?
The court approved breach of warranties of merchantability and fitness.
6. According to the case, why didn’t the court approve summary judgment for product liability claims? In this case two product liability claims where agued, design defect as that the coffee was excessively hot and failure to warn of danger. In Ohio governing, the law mentions design defect claims states that defective designs are those in which the foreseeable risks exceed the benefits, or those that are more dangerous than an ordinary consumer would expect when used in an intended or reasonably foreseeable manner. Based on the fact that the coffee caused second degree burns was sufficient enough to raise factual issue whether the coffee was unreasonably hot, thereby defeating summary judgment on design defect. Since the design defect was upheld thereby the failure-to-warn claim would stand as the arguments of intervening and superseding causation would not apply.
7. Do you agree with this decision? Why or why not?
I agree with the affirmed decision on the breach of warranty claim and fitness. The decision I disagree with is where the court reverses the summary judgment regarding the design defect. Coffee in my experience varies vastly in the temperatures they serve it at, it is common sense that coffee is served hot unless it is iced coffee and even in my home coffee maker settings can be at one hundred seventy degrees, whether that would cause second degree burns or not I am not sure. I do know for sure that when I make the mistake of taking a large sip to soon of any coffee purchases anywhere I burn my tongue, it seems that is a foreseeable and just common sense matter that anyone would be careful with hot coffee as if it can burn your tongue or in this case was too hot for the grandmother to drink. Caution should have been taken. Also, as part of customer service from Burger King warning should have been given.