Laurel Coca-Cola Bottling Co. v. Hankins, No. 39361

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtLEE; McGEHEE; McGEHEE
Citation222 Miss. 297,75 So.2d 731
Docket NumberNo. 39361
Decision Date22 November 1954
PartiesLAUREL COCA COLA BOTTLING COMPANY v. Mrs. Gladys HANKINS.

Page 731

75 So.2d 731
222 Miss. 297
LAUREL COCA COLA BOTTLING COMPANY
v.
Mrs. Gladys HANKINS.
No. 39361.
Supreme Court of Mississippi.
Nov. 22, 1954.

Page 732

[222 MISS 299] Beard, Pack & Ratcliff, Laurel, Watkins & Eager, Jackson, for appellant.

[222 MISS 300] L. D. Pittman, R. S. Tullos, O. O. Weathersby, Raleigh, Barnett, Jones & Montgomery, Jackson, for appellee.

LEE, Justice.

Mrs. Gladys Hankins obtained a judgment in the Circuit Court of Smith County against Laurel Coca Cola Bottling Company, a corporation, in the sum of $12,000, and the Bottling Company appealed.

The suit was a claim for damages, alleged to have been sustained by her as the result of drinking a portion [222 MISS 303] of the contents of a coca cola. The graveamen of the complaint, for all practical purposes, is found in the following paragraph of the declaration to wit: 'That this coca cola partially drank by plaintiff on April 3, 1952, in Smith County, Mississippi, contained a foreign substance known as 'Acid Iron Earth Water', and that the defendant company manufactured, sealed, delivered and sold said Coca Cola under an implied warranty that same was pure and wholesome and fit for human consumption, and plaintiff alleges that the violation of this implied warranty by the defendant company was and is the cause of plaintiff's discomforts:'

Mrs. Hankins bought the coca cola in question on the morning of April 3, 1952, at the Middleton Store in the Center Ridge Community of Smith County. Her proof, in which she was corroborated, and which was not disputed, showed that she carried the drink home, a short distance away, and put it in the refrigerator. It was conclusive that the defendant bottled the coca cola, and there was no proof that it was tampered with between the time of bottling and drinking. Some time after dinner, about 1:30 o'clock, she opened the bottle and drank a portion of the contents. As she described it, immediately her throat closed, there was a feeling like a coal of fire in her stomach, and when she got her breath, what she had drunk gushed out. Some of the expelled substance got on her dress and a rug and made holes in those articles. She took a drink of water, turned deathly sick and vomited. At the suggestion of a nearby neighbor, she ate a quantity of butter, but failing to obtain relief, she went to Dr. C. A. Kennedy at Taylorsville. He gave her a prescription which she took according to directions, but it afforded her no relief. The next morning she went to Dr. W. M. Coursey at Raleigh. She complained of a burning sensation in her mouth and stomach and was nauseated and vomiting. From the history and examination, he diagnosed her trouble as gastritis, or an inflammation of the lining of the stomach. He saw [222 MISS 304] the residue in the bottle, which was at least half full, and observed several large gelatine-like 'clumps' in it, with the appearance and color of frozen coca cola. There was some free liquid, but, in his opinion, the lumps would not have run out, if the bottle had been turned upside down. He gave Mrs. Hankins a hypodermic and prescribed an alkali. At his suggestion, the husband of Mrs. Hankins carried the bottle and its contents to Mississippi State College for analysis.

Mrs. Hankins returned home, and the next day, having failed to obtain relief, she entered the hospital and cline of Dr. W. C. Simmons at Bay Springs. From the history and his examination, Dr. Simmons was of the opinion that she had every symptom of actue gastritis with neurasthenia, for which he treated her. After some time, concluding that she was somewhat psychotic, he sent her to Dr. R. T. McLaurin at Laurel for X-rays and a complete internal examination. She then returned

Page 733

to Dr. Simmons' hospital and was a patient therein off and on until some time in October following.

Finally she went to Touro Infirmary in New Orleans on December 6th, where she was treated by Dr. George Welch, who was of the opinion that she was made acutely ill by drinking the coca cola. Various tests were made, including a gastroscopic examination, and finally an exploratory operation, when it was found that she had some inflammation in the upper third of the stomach. He was positive in his opinion that she was not psychotic, but initially sustained a physical injury.

Prof. S. J. Few, a chemist at the college, analyzed the remaining contents in the bottle. He made known his findings to Dr. M. P. Etheredge, his superior, who called Dr. Coursey over the telephone that same evening. However, the substance of that report is not in the record, although several days later, on April 9, 1952, he wrote a letter to Mr. Hankins about the analysis as follows:

[222 MISS 305] 'We called Dr. Coursey approximately 7:00 p. m. after you were here about the middle of the afternoon one day last week, and we reported to him that the liquid in Coca-Cola bottle did not contain any common poisons, and it seemed to be what is commonly known as an acid iron earth water. The principal constituent in an acid iron earth water is ferric sulfate, and it would be rather acid in nature. We understood from Dr. Coursey over the telephone that he would know how to treat your wife, and we sincerely trust that she is now all right. This examination was made by S. J. Few, Assistant State Chemist.'

Prof. Few testified concerning his analysis. He said that coca cola contains phosphoric acid, and that acid iron earth water contains ferrous sulphate, and that when these two substances are combined, they form iron phosphate and leave a quantity of sulphuric acid. He also testified that there was a considerable amount of solid ferric phosphate and ferrous sulphate, or sulphuric acid, in the bottle, although he did not determine the exact quantity. However, there was enough to be harmful, if taken internally, and he wanted the doctor to know. That was the reason for the call by Dr. Etheredge to Dr. Coursey.

Dr. McLaurin, to whom Dr. Simmons sent Mrs. Hankins, testified generally as to the effect of sulphuric acid, but, on objection by the plaintiff, he was not permitted to testify concerning his examination of Mrs....

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 practice notes
  • Johnson v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co., COCA-COLA
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • December 19, 1960
    ...because of drinking a Coca-Cola which contained a foreign substance. And again in the case of Laurel Coca-Cola Bottling Co. v. Hankins, 222 Miss. 297, 75 So.2d 731, decided on November 2, 1954, affirming a $12,000 judgment for injuries to the plaintiff from drinking a bottled beverage conta......
  • Coast Coca-Cola Bottling Co. v. Bryant, COCA-COLA
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • June 1, 1959
    ...which the appellant relies has never been adopted by this Court. One of the recent cases is Laurel Coca-Cola Bottling Co. v. Hankins, 222 Miss. 297, 75 So.2d 731, 732. In that case this Court said: 'It was conclusive that the defendant bottled the Coca-Cola, and there was no proof that it w......
  • Stevens v. Picayune Coca-Cola Bottling Co., COCA-COLA
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • September 26, 1955
    ...MISS 875] for the jury, and there was no error in refusing the requested peremptory. Laurel Coca-Coca Bottling Co. v. Hankins, Miss., 75 So.2d 731. No error appears in the record and the cause is therefore Affirmed. McGEHEE, C. J., and HALL, KYLE and HOLMES, JJ., concur. ...
3 cases
  • Johnson v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co., COCA-COLA
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • December 19, 1960
    ...because of drinking a Coca-Cola which contained a foreign substance. And again in the case of Laurel Coca-Cola Bottling Co. v. Hankins, 222 Miss. 297, 75 So.2d 731, decided on November 2, 1954, affirming a $12,000 judgment for injuries to the plaintiff from drinking a bottled beverage conta......
  • Coast Coca-Cola Bottling Co. v. Bryant, COCA-COLA
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • June 1, 1959
    ...which the appellant relies has never been adopted by this Court. One of the recent cases is Laurel Coca-Cola Bottling Co. v. Hankins, 222 Miss. 297, 75 So.2d 731, 732. In that case this Court said: 'It was conclusive that the defendant bottled the Coca-Cola, and there was no proof that it w......
  • Stevens v. Picayune Coca-Cola Bottling Co., COCA-COLA
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • September 26, 1955
    ...MISS 875] for the jury, and there was no error in refusing the requested peremptory. Laurel Coca-Coca Bottling Co. v. Hankins, Miss., 75 So.2d 731. No error appears in the record and the cause is therefore Affirmed. McGEHEE, C. J., and HALL, KYLE and HOLMES, JJ., concur. ...

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT