Court directs Coca-Cola to compensate for dead fly in Limca

"It stands satisfactorily proved that the Limca bottle purchased by the complainant businessman from the retailer, manufactured by Hindustan Cola Beverages, was found to contain a dead fly and in the circumstances a case of unfair trade practice is clearly made out," a District Consumer Redressal Forum said.

The forum, headed by president M P Mehndiratta, passed the order on a complaint by Mohan Lal, a city entrepreneur engaged in the business of manufacturing tin containers. The retailer too was made liable to pay part of the compensation.

"The respondents (Coca-Cola and the retailer) shall be jointly and severally liable to pay Rs 5,000 as compensation and Rs 2,000 towards cost of litigation to the complainant. Order be complied within one month," the court said.

In his complaint, Lal had said that he had bought five bottles of Limca and some snack to serve a delegation visiting him for a business deal. One of the Limca bottles had a mosquito or fly floating inside, he had added.

"The complainant felt humiliated and the members of the delegation were shocked. It brought bad reputation to him and resultantly the business deal could not be finalised," the consumer forum said, noting Lal's claims.

The businessman then sent legal notices to Limca Manufacturers and the retailer, Hemant Kumar, but when it did not help he approached the consumer court. The complaint had sought compensation of Rs 5.75 lakh including litigation expenses, alleging deficiency in service against both Coca-Cola and the retailer.

In reply to the complaint in the consumer forum, the cola major refuted his claims saying that no receipt is produced by the complainant. The court, however, accepted the complainant's argument that small items like soft drinks may not always be sold with a bill.

"There is merit in the contention of counsel for complainant that generally no bill is obtained for purchase of such small items," the consumer court said. To prove his case, the complainant had produced the Limca bottle in the court and had also taken photographs of the same.

"Photographs of the sealed bottle are available on the file and besides that there is mention in the order passed by the forum on January 3, 2007 that the complainant had produced the original bottle and it was found to contain a foreign body in the shape of fly," the court noted in its judgement.

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