The Dead Snail Case and The Passionate Personal Injury Attorney

Lawyer signing legal documentsThere is nothing more delicious than that first sip of soda on a hot, summer day. That is, of course, unless you happen to find a snail at the bottom of the bottle!

Yes, you read that right. A snail. As strange as it may seem, this was the scenario that initiated the snail in the bottle case – considered by some to be “the most famous case of all time”.What happened in the snail in the bottle case? Read on to learn how a ginger beer, a sick consumer, and a personal injury attorney set precedence for personal injury law. And if you ever find yourself needing a personal injury attorney, the Aranda Law Firm is here to help. 

An Unfortunate Discovery

The year was 1928. Ms. May Donoghue of Paisley, Scotland visited a cafe with her friend to have a sweet treat. Her friend purchased her a bottle of ginger beer, which she proceeded to pour over ice cream to make a float. After consuming most of the ice cream and ginger beer, she poured the rest of the contents of the bottle into a clear glass to find a shocking discovery – a partially decomposed snail! When Ms. Donoghue fell ill and was diagnosed with gastroenteritis a few days later, she took legal action against Mr. David Stevenson, the manufacturer of the ginger beer.

Duty of Care

Ms. Donoghue was represented by Walter Leechman, a personal injury attorney who was passionate about the relationship between manufacturer and consumer. He had previously been involved in a different ‘duty of care’ case – Mullen v A G Barr and Company Ltd. – in which a family discovered a dead mouse in a bottle of ginger beer. He lost the case due to a lack of precedence, but that didn’t stop him from trying again with Ms. Donoghue’s case.

The Case

While Ms. Donoghue failed to win her case in the Court of Session, an appeal to the House of Lords in 1932 ultimately brought her victory. The judgment of Lord Atkin was based on the Biblical concept of loving one’s neighbor. He concluded that Stevenson should be responsible for the well-being of those people who consumed his product. Because the case didn’t settle until after Stevenson died, Ms. Donoghue was awarded a portion of the damages from his estate.

The Takeaways

The dead snail case affirmed several important principles for personal injury law. Beyond the ‘duty of care’ and ‘good neighbor’ principles already mentioned, the House of Lords’ ruling also established that negligence is a tort. A plaintiff is allowed to take civil action against a respondent if the negligence of the respondent caused harm.

While negligence seems like an obvious assault to personal injury in the modern, western world, it was not always taken for granted. We owe a lot to the dead snail case, and we owe a lot to Walter Leechman for fighting on behalf of manufacturer responsibility.

A Personal Injury Attorney in El Paso

If you are the victim of negligence and are considering taking legal action, seek out a local personal injury lawyer to help guide you through the complexities of your case. A lawyer will go over the details of your case and offer counsel as to how much compensation you should receive for your injuries. If you have more questions about a personal injury case in El Paso, contact the professionals at the Aranda Law Firm today.