Legal Drama

OMG! I Found a Cockroach in my Fanta! In the Case of Edward Okwejiminor v. G. Gbakeji & Nigerian Bottling Company Plc

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We primarily talk about entertainment law issues here  on Africa Music Law (AML) because that is what this site is for. Nevertheless,  majority of the times, the legal disputes we discuss involve parties that opt for twitter/social media as a medium for resolving their disputes, rather than a court of law in Nigeria.

Accordingly, I thought I should try, periodically, to highlight industries and practice areas outside of entertainment/entertainment law where we see the Nigerian legal justice system at play.

For the average Nigerian reading this,  these cases should open your eyes to the fact that you can and should use Nigeria’s legal justice system to address your legal issues. This means if you have been involved in a car accident, unlawfully fired/sacked from your place of employment, among many legal issues you may have, you can and should seek legal representation. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact the Nigerian Bar Association to find non-profit legal organizations and attorneys who are willing to help take your matter pro bono i.e. free.

I try to keep my writings on AML as simplistic as possible. Legalese are absolutely unnecessary because I am not in court or talking to fellow licensed attorneys. The AML target audience is non-legal, although I am grateful that it attracts a diversity of audiences including my legal colleagues. Therefore, I hope the excerpt below is not over some of your heads, particularly on the procedural side of what happened in the trial court, the appeals court (a level above the trial court) and ultimately the Supreme Court.

The excerpt below I am choosing to share with you all, is from AML reader and founder of Nigerian Law Intellectual Property Watch. It is a great repository website for Nigerian and non-Nigerian IP lawyers. For you the non-lawyer i.e. AML creative industry people, it is also a great website to look for intellectual property lawyers, if you just can’t find any entertainment lawyer in Nigeria to represent your interests.

Disclaimer: I do not know the lawyers on the site and their work. I cannot vouch for their knowledge of the entertainment industry and representation of persons within the industry. I have shared persons I know are attorneys within the industry which you can read about here. Therefore, please do your due diligence, both for those on the NIPW site and even the ones I have shared with you all on AML, to make sure they are a fit for you.

Now on to the Cockroach Fanta case and the court’s ultimate ruling, among other cases.

Cheers,
Uduak

Fanta

1. Edward Okwejiminor v. G. Gbakeji & Nigerian Bottling Company Plc (2002)

Suit No. S.C. 67/2002

The appellant (Edward Okwejiminor) purchase a crate of Coca-Cola drinks including a Fanta Orange drink manufactured and bottled by the 2nd respondent [Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC)] and sold by the 1st respondent (G. Gbakeji). The Fanta Orange drink was alleged to have been contaminated as it contained a cockroach and a germ called Shigema, causing the appellant to suffer stomach ache, vomiting and other ailments. The appellant alleged that this eventually led to his hospitalization. The appellant also alleged that another unopened bottle that contained a fly, which was tendered into evidence at the trial court, was purchased from the 1st respondent. At the trial court, although the court found that the 1st respondent (1st defendant at the time) was not liable as she was a mere “carrier”, the court awarded the appellant (plaintiff at the trial court) the sum of ₦950,000 in damages.

At the Court of Appeal, the trial court’s decision was reversed. The Court of Appeal held that because the plaintiff had eaten breakfast consisting of bread and tea on the day in question, there was no evidence to support his claim that he had suffered any shock, pains, agony and discomfort as a result of consumption of the contaminated Fanta Orange drink. It is important to point out that at the trial court NBC never pleaded that the plaintiff’s injury was caused by the bread and tea taken at breakfast.

At the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal’s decision was set aside. Francis Fedode Tabai J.S.C, delivering the lead judgement held that the Court of Appeal’s findings were not based on issues raised in the pleadings.

In this case, the Court of Appeal formed its opinion on the propriety or otherwise of the amount of ₦950,000 awarded because of its erroneous finding that the claim was not sustainable. I have examined the award made by the learned trial judge and I do not find any strong reason to interfere with the exercise of his discretion in the award. The result is that I would not disturb the award made by the learned trial judge…Francis Fedode Tabai J.S.C

2. Nigerian Bottling Company Ltd v. Constance Obi Ngonadi (1984)

Suit No: SC.103/1984

The plaintiff/respondent sustained severe injuries following the explosion of a brand of kerosene refrigerator, which was sold to her by the defendant/appellant. The plaintiff/respondent was involved in the business of selling beer and soft drinks on a retail basis (popularly referred to as a beer parlour business in Nigeria). The plaintiff/respondent bought from the defendant/appellant a kerosine fridge known as Evercold Refrigerator/Cooler Serial Number S/W.77464 OM. 2812, for use in her beer parlour. On February 12, 1975, the defendant/appellant delivered the fridge to the plaintiff/respondent. Two days after delivery, the fridge caught fire while in use. The plaintiff/respondent promptly reported this incident to the defendant/appellant who sent one of its technicians to accompany the plaintiff/respondent to her beer parlour at Agbor and rectify the anomaly in the fridge.

NLIPW has the full story.

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Africa Music Law™

AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law blog and podcast show by Fashion and Entertainment Lawyer Ms. Uduak Oduok empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Ms. Uduak is also a Partner and Co-Founder of Ebitu Law Group, P.C. where she handles her law firm’s intellectual property law, media, business, fashion, and entertainment law practice areas. She has litigated a wide variety of cases in California courts and handled a variety of entertainment deals for clients in the USA, Africa, and Asia.

Her work and contributions to the creative industry have been recognized by numerous organizations including the National Bar Association, The American University School of Law and featured in prestigious legal publications in the USA including ABA Journal and The California Lawyer Magazine. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the prestigious Academy of Arts University in San Francisco.
For legal representation inquiries, please email (uduak@ebitulawgrp.com). For blog related inquiries i.e. advertising, licensing, or guest interview requests, please email (africamusiclaw@gmail.com). Thank you for visiting Africa Music Law™.

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