According to the facts proven, the claimant was in the supermarket ?Torre Lucas? in the city of Murcia on 28 August 1994. There he took a glass bottle containing white lemonade from one of the shelves in order to buy it, which exploded just as he was placing it in a shopping bag. The shards reached his face and caused, among others, injuries to the iris and cornea of the right eye as a result of which his eyesight was reduced. The bottle has been identified as belonging to the commercial brand ?La Casera?. It is a product which is produced by the defendant, while a different firm, ?Carbónica Murciana S.L.?, is in charge of bottling and commercial distribution. It has also been proven that the only cause of the injuries was the low quality of the product destined to be sold, since the bottle exploded because it was defective.
The claimant claimed the amount of 36.520.000 pesetas from the three companies mentioned above. The Court of First Instance partially admitted this claim in a decision on 18 April 1996; the commercial firm ?La Casera S.A.? appealed against the aforementioned decision before the Appellate Court of Murcia. On 21 March 1997 this Court rejected the appeal. The defendant brought an appeal before the High Court, which was denied. In its ruling, the Court rejected the arguments brought by the defendant, amongst them the following assertion.
The defendant alleged that the claimant had not proven that the product was defective, according to Article 5 of the Products Liability Act. The point is that the explosion took place without the product having being manipulated by the consumer in any way; this means that the explosion was caused by the product itself. According to Article 3 of the Act referred above, a product is defective when it does not meet the safety that a person could lawfully expect from it, taking all circumstances into account and, in particular, the presentation of the product, the reasonably foreseeable use and the time when it was put into circulation. At any rate, a product is defective when it does not meet the safety normally offered by all the other items of the same series.
In the case at stake it has been sufficiently proven that the bottle which caused the injuries to the claimant markedly lacked the safety required. Therefore, since it is an unsafe product, it was obviously defective in itself as from the time when it was put into circulation. The concept of defect laid down by the Act, which follows the EU Directive 85/374 EEC, is a flexible and broad one. In addition, since there is no place for subjective elements, the safety has to be seen as a requirement of the product, because every consumer is entitled to be able to use the product without any risk for his or her physical or patrimonial integrity.
The existence of the defect results from the concept established by the Act 22/1994 and has to be connected to safety that the product must offer. If this requirement is not met, the product has to be deemed defective, thereby reversing the burden of proof, since it is the manufacturer who has to bring evidence that the product is suitable or that there are other causes that could exonerate him or her from liability.European Review of Private Law