The High Court has reversed an order requiring Coca Cola Ltd to compensate two businessmen for an alleged wedding mishap caused by a contaminated soda.
A magistrate’s court had ruled that the giant beverage firm should pay Boniface Kyene and Augustine Kaindi Sh1 million for loss of business and public humiliation at the event.
According to the traders, they had bought sodas worth Sh23,240 at Coca Cola’s North Airport depot in Nairobi for a wedding that was held on August 28, 2010.
The court heard that during the fete, a guest started vomiting and screaming after drinking a 300ml bottle of Krest. On investigating, Mr Kyene and Mr Kaindi claimed that the soda contained a large, disgusting foreign body.
They told the court that commotion attracted the attention of the other guests who were infuriated at being served tainted drinks.
“The angry mob of guests wanted to beat the respondents but upon intervention by the master of ceremony, the guests calmed down but they insisted that the entire delivery of sodas be removed from the wedding tables immediately,” the traders’ lawyers said.
It was claimed the incident greatly embarrassed the businessmen who were also kicked out of the wedding venue. And to add insult to injury, they allegedly suffered financial losses after the couple cancelled their catering contract and refused to settle their invoice of Sh40,000.
But in its reply, Coca Cola denied liability and argued that all its products were produced under the most stringent quality control measures.
Justice Lucy Njuguna found that Kyene and Kaindi neither called the wedding guest who was allegedly affected to testify nor even any other witness who say the foreign body in the soda.
“The respondents did not adduce evidence to show what damage they suffered as a result of the alleged embarrassment and humiliation, if they were humiliated at all,” ruled Justice Njuguna.
The judge also found that the soda was never taken for chemical analysis to ascertain or rule out that it was the cause of the alleged vomiting.
The magistrate’s court was also faulted for allowing the case because the traders sued Coca Cola on January 21, 2014 – four years after the alleged incident.
“The court was not told where the bottle was kept and under what conditions. It is difficult for the court to establish whether it could have been interfered with or not,” said Justice Njuguna.
The businessmen were also ordered to pay Coca Cola the cost of the case.