Canadian loses bottled-fly-in-water case

by Walter Olson on May 23, 2008

Martin Mustapha of Windsor, Ont. had won $340,000 over the fly for emotional distress and phobic reaction, though neither he nor any family member had come in contact with the water in question, since they spotted the insect before opening the bottle. Now the Supreme Court of Canada has refused to disturb an appeals court’s reversal of the award, and has ordered that Mustapha pay the water company’s legal costs. (“SCC quashes man’s suit over fly in bottled water”, CTV, May 22; earlier here and here).

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Update: C$341K trauma from seeing bottled fly
05.23.08 at 12:01 am


1 Samson Isberg 05.23.08 at 1:05 am

Now that the case is closed, perhaps Mr Mustapha in the name of science could tell us how he got the fly into the bottle?

2 Patrick Saunders 05.23.08 at 3:44 am

There’s nothing like a $30k sting to discourage similar wasteful lawsuits. This should happen a lot more often.

3 Todd Rogers 05.23.08 at 6:53 am

In a clear reversal of punditry, I submit that this case IS about the money…$30,000 of which will exit Mr. Mustapha’s coffers. Will they allow him some kind of payment plan?

4 E-Bell 05.23.08 at 8:37 am

The kind of folks who file this kind of suit tend to be less than wealthy. I would expect that Mustapha – a hairdresser – can’t afford to pay the $30,000.

So, the company still loses.

5 throckmorton 05.23.08 at 9:14 am


He might not be able to afford it but his attorney should!

6 Bill Poser 05.23.08 at 12:37 pm

How does this ruling fit with the common law Eggshell Skull Rule that you take the victim as you find him? Rightly or wrongly, it seems to me that under the common law rule Mustapha should have won.

7 Andy 05.23.08 at 1:08 pm

Bill, I haven’t been in law school for a while, but I think the Eggshell Skull rule is for physical idiosyncracies/vulnerabilities which result in more damage than the average bear would suffer, not mental/emotional idiosyncracies/vulnerabilities.

8 matt 05.23.08 at 5:27 pm

im sorry but if this affects you as much as it did him (presuming hes not lying of course) you should be locked in a mental hospital

9 Cook Barela 05.23.08 at 7:36 pm

Fly in a bottle… humm, that would make a good title for a book or movie…

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