In [i]Porrazzo v. Bumble Bee Foods, et.al.[/i] (S.D.N.Y. 10-CV-4367) plaintiff sued defendants in strict product liability after being diagnosed with mercury poisoning. Plaintiff ate 10 cans of tune fish per week for a period of two and a half years, and had a blood mercury level more than twice the recommended limit. One of plaintiff’s claims was that the tuna fish was not fit for the ordinary purposes for which tuna fish was intended. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that a diet consisting of nearly 1500 cans, or over 500 pounds, of tuna in thirty-three months was not the intended use of the product, and was unreasonable as a matte of law. The court disagreed.
The court held that what was “reasonable” was best left to a jury to decide. The court emphasized that such a decision, the reasonableness of plaintiff’s diet, was not proper for a motion to dismiss.
The case had several other issues regarding the propriety of plaintiff’s complaint, but most of the objections were rejected because of the status of the case, i.e. motion to dismiss. The court noted that the claims might not survive a motion for summary judgment or trial.
The lesson to take from this case is what one person believes is reasonable may differ from another, and thus the question is a quintessential “question of fact” for a jury.
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