Case of the Exploding Wine Bottle: Personal Injury Settlement
Published On: December 8, 2007
A fascinating product liability case involved a wine conossieur who, while attempting to uncork a bottle of wine, was using a cork extractor which operates as follows: A needle is inserted through the cork, the user pumps the spring-loaded handle and air pressure then forces the cork out. The result is shown in the picture to your left.
Mr. A. had owned the cork extracting unit for several years and, up to the date of his injury, had used it to uncork at least 200 bottles of wine. Although he reports that the cork is usually extracted on the fifth to seventh pump, the bottle exploded on the fourth or fifth pump on this grim occasion.
He reports that he immediately knew that his hand was dramatically injured because he could not feel anything and, as he held it up, blood started gushing heavily from the wound.
It was my theory that the bottle itself was defective. I engaged the services of a phenomenal expert, Fred Johnson, Ph.D., whose credentials as a professor of physics at Cal State Fullerton spoke for themselves. Dr. Johnson examined the bottle with the use of a high magnification microscope and determined that there were two major defects in the subject wine bottle: (1) Very uneven glass thickness and (2) an obvious glass anomaly (bubble), which weakened the bottle’s integrity, such that when the internal gas pressure was applied (in order to remove the cork) it caused a catastrophic failure of the bottle.
Mr. A. sustained serious injuries as a result of this manufacturing defect. To whit, he suffered a laceration to the flexor tendon in the ring finger of his left hand. Although doctors attempted to surgically repair the injury, Mr. A permanently lost the use of his finger (see photo to left)
Settlement: We were able to achieve a settlement for Mr. A against the bottle manufacturer and the store who sold it to him of over $100,000.