The Washington Supreme Court ruled last week in the case of a deputy who says he found spit in his Whopper that state law allows compensation of consumers who suffered emotionally because of a product failure. Deputy Edward Bylsma has sued Burger King and a Vancouver-area franchise holder, claiming sputum found in his Whopper in 2009 left lasting psychological scars.
The case was previously dismissed after a lower federal court found Washington law did not support such suits. The latest ruling will presumably allow it to go forward, though the state court was clear that a plaintiff must show the emotional distress is a reasonable reaction to circumstances and has manifested in a measurable way.
Bylsma sued Burger King in federal court claiming an employee with a criminal record ruined his late-night snack by spitting a “slimy, clear and white phlegm glob” into his burger. Heclaims to suffer “ongoing emotional trauma from the incident, including vomiting, nausea, food anxiety and sleeplessness.”
DNA testing showed employee Gary Herb to be the source of the sputum. Herb was sentenced to 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to a related assault charge.
“Common sense tells us that food consumption is a personal matter and contaminated food is closely associated with disgust and other kinds of emotional turmoil,” the Court wrote.