The Tale of the Spilt Soup Cup: Lessons for Plaintiffs (Part I)

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Stock Photo: Colorful of cup soup on wood background.

In 2011, “OP” – a little girl one year of age – was with her father and one-year-old cousin when she suffered serious burns after a cup of instant soup was tipped over and spilled on her. A legal complaint filed on behalf of the girl by her mother alleged that the girl’s father had prepared a cup of instant soup produced by Maruchan, Inc. (a subsidiary of Tokyo Suisan Kaisha) and had left the cup filled with boiling water on a counter. The girl’s cousin then accidentally tipped the soup cup over, spilling the boiling-hot liquid contents onto the girl. The girl suffered serious burns and required several skin grafts. The lawsuit is currently pending in federal court in North Carolina.
What lessons can this tale of the tipsy soup cup teach injured South Carolina plaintiffs?

Basics of Product Liability Cases

The first lesson that can be learned deals with what constitutes a product liability case and what must be proven by the injured plaintiff in order to succeed. A product liability case seeks to hold the manufacturer of a product responsible for the injuries the plaintiff sustains as a result of a dangerous condition or defect that exists with the product. A defect can include:

  • Design defects, which occur when a product is designed and then produced in such a way that it is dangerous or hazardous to the consumer (in this case, every product produced would have a defect that made it dangerous);
  • Manufacturing defects, which occur when a product may be designed to be safe but an error in production causes one or more products to are not produced according to the product’s design and this renders one or a few of the products unsafe (in this case, only one or a few of the products have a defect that make it dangerous); or
  • Labeling defects, in which a product is dangerous as designed and manufactured but the manufacturer fails to include appropriate warnings on the product that inform consumers of the dangers of the product.

A product liability suit can allege one or more defects exist with a particular product, depending on the circumstances. (In this case, the mother alleged the soup cup had a design defect that made it more prone to tipping over.)

Winning a Products Liability Case

Winning a product liability case can be accomplished in one of two ways. First, if the product is in an unreasonably dangerous condition due to a defect from the moment it leaves the manufacturer and it remains unaltered until used by the consumer, strict liability may apply and the plaintiff need only show that the product’s dangerous defect caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Otherwise, the plaintiff can succeed by showing that the manufacturer acted carelessly or negligently in designing or manufacturing the product and this caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
If you have been injured because of a dangerous product, call Greenville product liability attorney David R. Price, Jr. at (864) 271-2636.


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