§63.5 Claim Against Manufacturer of Alcohol
The Case: Pemberton v. American Distilled Spirits Co ., 664 S.W.2d 690 (1984).
The Basis Facts: Minor died after consumption of Everclear Grain Alcohol. His parents brought various claims under the Tennessee Products Liability Act against the manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of the alcohol claiming that the product was of unusually high alcohol content and consumers were not warned of this fact.
The Bottom Line:
- "The Minnesota Supreme Court, in Sworski v. Coleman, 208 Minn. 43, 293 N.W. 297, 299 (1940), stated in relation to alcohol:
The pathological effect of using intoxicants is well known. It is common knowledge that large doses may cause death almost simultaneously by a reflex action on the heart or by cardiac and respiratory depression after the drug has been absorbed."664 S.W.2d at 693.
- "Alcohol is universally classified as toxic. Webster's Third International Dictionary defines 'toxic' - 'a toxic substance: something poisonous.'" Id.
- "The complaint in this case charges that the alcohol was 'poisonous' and decedent died 'as a result of alcohol overdose.' In our opinion these allegations come within the Products Liability Act provision negating the duty to adequately warn of a danger or hazard that is apparent to the ordinary user, T.C.A. § 29-28-105(d), and are insufficient, if proven, to impose liability on either the manufacturer or seller of the alcohol. It follows that the complaint does not state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and must be dismissed on the filing of a Rule 12.02(6) motion." Id. at 693-94.