The Ontario Court of Appeal has overturned a judgment that awarded $341,775 in damages to a Windsor hairdresser who developed an "objectively bizarre" nervous disorder after seeing 1 1/2 dead flies floating in a container of bottled water.
Waddah "Martin" Mustapha noticed the flies as he replaced a bottle of Culligan water on his home dispenser in 2001 and developed a major depressive disorder.
His symptoms included phobias, nightmares and imagining flies walking on rotting food. Mustapha also worried about his wife preparing baby formula with the water and said he lost clients and his ability to perform sexually.
"Neither Mustapha nor any member of his family drank from the bottle," said Justice Robert Blair, writing for the appeal court yesterday.
"He became obsessed, however, with thoughts about the dead fly in the water and about the potential implications for his family's health of their having possibly been drinking unpurified water in the past."
While characterizing Mustapha's reaction as "objectively bizarre," the trial judge, Justice John Brockenshire, found it was explained in part by his upbringing in the Middle East, "where the devotion to and concern for the family is at a higher level than is found in North America."
Maybe so in the Middle East--depending on a rather strained definition of paternal solicitude--but the problem is clearly with the neurotic hypochondriac who went nuts over a fly in his water.
The thin-skull plaintiff rule must have its limits somewhere. Who hasn't seen a dead fly floating around in the sink?
The Ontario Court of Appeal, when dealing with legal liability instead of social policy, can exercise common sense in its bailiwick. Mustapha needs a shrink, not a cheque, to deal with his problems.
Source: Toronto Star