Top court overturns dead fly-in-water damage claim

May 23, 2008 5:34:57 AM PDT
A man who claimed that he became depressed, anxious and phobic after finding a a dead fly in a bottle of water will no longer get the judgment he won against a bottling company, Canada's top court ruled Thursday.

Martin Mustapha will have to shell out thousands in court costs, instead of collecting the more than $345,000 he won in an Ontario court three years ago.

The Supreme Court of Canada agreed in a 9-0 judgment that Mustapha suffered real psychological harm, but Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said his reaction was so "unusual or extreme" that bottling company Culligan of Canada Ltd., should not have to pay compensation.

McLachlin said the legal test for damages is whether a person of "ordinary fortitude" would suffer psychological harm. In Mustapha's case, she concluded, the reaction was so unique that Culligan could not reasonably have foreseen the consequences and should not be held liable.

Mustapha insisted that he had been treated unfairly and said finding the dead fly in an unopened bottle of water in 2001 devastated him. He became obsessed with thoughts of dead flies, could not sleep and was constantly on edge - to the point that his business and even his sex life suffered.

"I'm just the type of person that is very clean and cautious about the health and well-being of myself and my family," Mustapha said.

He was diagnosed by several doctors as suffering from severe depression, anxiety and phobias.


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