Flying fruit lid sparks $150K settlement offer

DETROIT (AP) - November 18, 2010

Del Monte Foods of San Francisco and Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. insist there's no credible evidence that the jar was unsafe, but they made the offer Tuesday after a judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit by Darryl Alexander of Southfield, Mich.

Alexander's lawyer, Mark Miller, said the offer is too low because his client has permanent eye damage.

Alexander said the stubborn lid flew through the air and struck him in the eye after he hit it with the rubber handle of a screwdriver in April 2008. He said he first placed the jar of Orchard Select mixed fruit under warm water.

"It happened so fast. I just had no time to react. ... I staggered, lost consciousness and fell to the floor. I eventually screamed for my wife," Alexander, 56, said when interviewed during a deposition last December.

Kroger and Del Monte made the $150,000 offer this week, about a month after U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan cleared the way for a trial by refusing to throw out much of the lawsuit. A trial date has not been set.

The offer is "not an admission that defendants are liable," said Jack Klamink, attorney for Del Monte and Kroger.

The court file includes a photo of a fruit jar and a badly damaged lid that no longer fits. Alexander was treated at a hospital and wore an eye patch for several weeks.

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