May this case, Donoghue didn’t purchase the drink

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Last updated: February 18, 2019

MayDonoghue and a friend were at a café on August 26, 1928, in Glasgow Scotland.

Donoghue’s friend bought her a drink. The drink was ginger beer from the manufacturingcompany, Stevenson. The drink was in a dark brown bottle so you couldn’t seethe actual beverage from outside of the bottle. Donoghue drank some of thedrink and her friend poured the remainder of her drink in a tumbler. Adecomposing snail fell out of the bottle and into the tumbler. Donoghuecomplained that she felt ill from this and was later sent to the hospital. Shewas diagnosed with gastroenteritis.

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Donoghuetook legal action against David Stevenson who was the manufacturer of the drinkshe consumed. She filed in the Court of Sessions, which is Scotland’s highestcivil court seeking £500 in damages (which is about $840.17 Canadian). Shecould not successfully sue Stevenson for breach of contract. Only because shedid not purchase her drink, her friend did. However, Stevenson breached a dutyof his care to his customer’s and consumer’s.

He had caused injury throughnegligence. Stevenson’s lawyers fought back and Donoghue did not succeed. Shewas granted to appeal to the House of Lords. In1932, Lord Atkin declared that Stevenson should be responsible for the wellbeing of customers that consume his products.

As for they can not be inspecteddue to their dark bottle. The case was brought back to court, however DavidStevenson passed away before it was finalized. Donoghue was awarded an amountof damages from his estate.  TheNeighbour Principle was derived from this case.

The Neighbour Principle saysthat a person should take reasonable care to avoid omissions or acts that theycan reasonably foresee as likely to cause injury to the neighbour. In thiscase, Donoghue didn’t purchase the drink however her friend purchased the drinkand received it as a gift. Donoghue was considered a neighbour. Negligence isthe failure to take proper care in doing something that can result in injury ordamage. The plaintiff (Donoghue) had to show some sort of contract in order fornegligence to be proven.

However, she did not physically purchase the drink herself.So, she could not have proven any sort of contract or agreement with David Stevenson.However, Lord Atkin’s Neighbour Principle indicated that Stevenson is stillresponsible for the well being of Donoghue and his product, the ginger beer. DavidStevenson did not have a risk management plan for his products. I am sure his manufacturingcompany did not identify any of the four steps on how to avoid legal risks whenworking.

Stevenson should have made sure that his factory, or area where he wasbottling his beverages was clean from any bugs and that his bottles were cleanand in an area where bugs could not access inside of them. It is clear that Stevensondid not take any precautions when he was bottling his products. Which is thereason why he was negligent.

In the future, he should have used clear bottlesto see if there was anything wrong with the beverage before a customer couldconsume it. Also, he should have made sure his factory was clean from bugs andthat his bottles were clean. If he had followed these precautions, thisincident would have never happened.

Stevenson did not identify the legal risks,evaluate the risks, devise a risk management plan, and he did not implement theplan.Inconclusion, because of David Stevenson’s negligence, May Donoghue consumed abeverage with a decomposing snail and was diagnosed with gastroenteritis. Thecase between Donoghue and Stevenson created the Neighbour Principle were aperson should take caution to avoid anything that could possibly injure the neighbour.Stevenson did not follow any sort of risk management plan which could haveprevented this case. 

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