REL: 07/17/2009




Notice: T h i s o p i n i o n i s s u b j e c t t o formal r e v i s i o n b e f o r e p u b l i c a t...
1071708

        These cases are                     b e f o r e t h i s C o u r t on       a certified               ques...
1071708

consumers           sued      Total        Body        Essential         Nutrition,         Inc.;

TexAmerican Fo...
1071708

Crump        Toyota,            Inc.,         154       F.3d           1284 ,       1287        (11th.       Cir....
1071708

so     as    to       defeat         jurisdiction                    based        on        diversity        of

...
1071708

fitness      f o r a p a r t i c u l a r purpose          are subject          to the defense of

the    sealed-c...
1071708

                " F i v e q u e s t i o n s were c e r t i f i e d b u t , f o l l o w i n g
        o u r u s u ...
1071708

proximately         resulting        from any b r e a c h          of warranty."           (emphasis

added));   ...
1071708

availability           of    the      sealed-container                  doctrine         to      claims

assertin...
1071708

       We   cannot,       however,       view     the enactment           o f t h e UCC         as a

legislative...
1071708

                q u a l i t y and q u a n t i t y w i t h i n each        u n i t and
                among a l l...
1071708

(Emphasis          added.)       The     rule       i n Tice       i s sound        a n d due    t o be

a p p l ...
1071708

the    availability               of    the        defense.         5




        The     treatment              ...
1071708

version       o f t h e UCC, § 2 - 2 1 4 ,          alleging        breach        of the implied

warranty of mer...
1071708

    trade.        I n Wood v . Hub M o t o r C o . , s u p r a , h o w e v e r , i t
    was s p e c i f i c a l ...
1071708

      breach         of     the        U.C.C.          implied         warranty       of
      merchantability.  ...
1071708

the    correct     result      under     analogous        provisions         of the Georgia

UCC:

              ...
1071708

BOLIN,    Justice     (dissenting).

     Because       I believe     that    the enactment         of Alabama's ...
1071708

                         "(f)         Conform       to  the promises            or
                a f f i r m a ...
1071708

warranty;         (2) b r e a c h     o f t h e i m p l i e d w a r r a n t y ; and       (3) d a m a g e s

prox...
1071708

    t h e y have u s e d i n t h e s e l e c t i o n and p r e p a r a t i o n o f
    such        articles      ...
1071708

        the        taxation               of    costs        according               to   the     equities       ...
1071708

              " I n D o t h a n C h e r o - C o l a B o t t l i n g Co. e t a l . v .
    W e e k s , 16 A l a . ...
1071708

        of c a r e i n s e l e c t i n g and s e l l i n g t h a t         particular
        f l o u r , t h e c...
1071708

    K i r k l a n d ] are a u t h o r i t y f o r the p r o p o s i t i o n t h a t the
    retailer             ...
1071708

    2 2 6 , 153 S o . 446 [ ( 1 9 3 4 ) ] ,        77 C . J . S . S a l e s § 3 2 9 , p .
    1186.

            ...
1071708

Bradford,           268   A l a . at         219-20,        105      So.    2d       at       827-28.    In

reve...
1071708

the   c e l e r y c o n t a i n e d sodium b i s u l f a t e , which the p l a i n t i f f ,             an

asth...
1071708

        So.     2 d 9 7 5 , 977      (Ala.         1983)).

                 "This         Court       has       ...
1071708

     his  activities               i n connection            with     handling the
     product  and i t         ...
1071708

the    sealed-container doctrine                   as a d e f e n s e      to the element of

causation; rather, ...
1071708

title,      t h e p r i n c i p l e s o f law and e q u i t y ,           including          the law

merchant   ...
1071708

Civ.     App.      1980).           In    other       words,       the      UCC        i s   to   be

supplemente...
1071708

         o f c a n be shown as m a t t e r b e a r i n g         on w h e t h e r t h e
         b r e a c h i t ...
1071708

available       as   a defense      to the    retail    seller     of   food   products

in     claims   assertin...
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Supreme Court Decision Totalbody

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total body formula alabama supreme court
total body formula mark zamora

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Supreme Court Decision Totalbody

  1. 1. REL: 07/17/2009 Notice: T h i s o p i n i o n i s s u b j e c t t o formal r e v i s i o n b e f o r e p u b l i c a t i o n i n t h e advance s h e e t s o f Southern R e p o r t e r . R e a d e r s a r e r e q u e s t e d t o n o t i f y t h e R e p o r t e r o f D e c i s i o n s , Alabama A p p e l l a t e C o u r t s , 300 D e x t e r A v e n u e , M o n t g o m e r y , A l a b a m a 3 6 1 0 4 - 3 7 4 1 ((334) 2 2 9 - 0 6 4 9 ) , o f a n y t y p o g r a p h i c a l o r o t h e r e r r o r s , i n o r d e r t h a t c o r r e c t i o n s may b e made b e f o r e t h e o p i n i o n i s p r i n t e d i n Southern R e p o r t e r . SUPREME COURT OF ALABAMA SPECIAL TERM, 2009 1071708 Marcella Sparks v. T o t a l Body E s s e n t i a l N u t r i t i o n , Inc., e t a l . C i n d i Howard, M a r i o n Howard, and J o s h u a Taylor v. T o t a l Body E s s e n t i a l N u t r i t i o n , Inc., e t a l . Certified Question from the U n i t e d States D i s t r i c t Court f o r t h e N o r t h e r n D i s t r i c t o f Alabama (CV-08-PT-1010-E and CV-08-PT-1012-E ) LYONS, Justice.
  2. 2. 1071708 These cases are b e f o r e t h i s C o u r t on a certified question from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Facts and Procedural History At various times Marcella Sparks, Cindi Howard, Marion Howard, and Joshua Taylor (collectively referred to as "the consumers") purchased a dietary supplement known as "Total Body Formula" from St. John's Nutrition, a health-food retailer in Oxford, Alabama. 1 St. John's Nutrition is a retail seller of Total Body Formula and received the supplement from the manufacturer in sealed, prepackaged containers. St. John's N u t r i t i o n s o l d Total Body Formula to the consumers i n the same c o n d i t i o n as i t was received by St. John's N u t r i t i o n . The consumers allege that after ingesting Total Body Formula, they suffered serious and permanent physical injuries r e s u l t i n g from high l e v e l s of selenium and chromium c o n t a i n e d i n the supplement. In two separate actions 2 filed on April 28, 2008, the The c o n s u m e r s s t a t e t h a t S t . J o h n ' s N u t r i t i o n " a p p a r e n t l y 1 is a sole p r o p r i e t o r s h i p . " C o n s u m e r s ' b r i e f , a t 1. 2 S p a r k s was t h e p l a i n t i f f i n t h e f i r s t a c t i o n ( C V - 0 8 - P T - 1 0 1 0 - E ) , and C i n d i Howard, M a r i o n Howard, and T a y l o r were t h e p l a i n t i f f s i n the second a c t i o n (CV-08-PT-1012-E). 2
  3. 3. 1071708 consumers sued Total Body Essential Nutrition, Inc.; TexAmerican Food B l e n d i n g , Inc.; Wright Enrichment, I n c . ; and St. John's N u t r i t i o n i n the Calhoun Circuit Court, asserting claims under t h e Alabama Extended Manufacturer's Liability Doctrine ("AEMLD") f o r the manufacture and/or sale of a defective and unreasonably dangerous product, negligent failure to warn, negligence, negligent and/or reckless marketing, breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, and breach of the implied warranty of f i t n e s s f o ra p a r t i c u l a r purpose, and a s s e r t i n g a claim of fraud. On June 6, 2008, TexAmerican Food Blending removed t h e two actions to the federal district court p u r s u a n t t o 28 U.S.C. § 1 3 3 2 , asserting that the amount in controversy exceeded the threshold jurisdictional limit of the federal district court and that diversity jurisdiction existed because S t . John's Nutrition, the only named defendant with an Alabama residence for purposes of determining f e d e r a l d i v e r s i t y j u r i s d i c t i o n , s e e 28 U.S.C. § 1 3 3 2 ( c ) ( 1 ) , had been fraudulently joined. Fraudulent joinder i s established "when there i s no possibility that the p l a i n t i f f can prove a cause of action against the resident (non-diverse) defendant." Triggs v. John 3
  4. 4. 1071708 Crump Toyota, Inc., 154 F.3d 1284 , 1287 (11th. Cir. 1 998 ) . "'If there i s even a p o s s i b i l i t y that a state court would find that the complaint states a cause of a c t i o n a g a i n s t any one of the resident defendants, the federal court must f i n d that the joinder was proper and remand the case to the state court.'" Triggs, 154 F.3d at 1287 (quoting C o k e r v. Amoco O i l Co., 709 F.2d 1433, 1440-41 (11th C i r . 1993)). "The p l a i n t i f f need not have a winning case against the allegedly fraudulent d e f e n d a n t ; he need o n l y have a p o s s i b i l i t y of stating a valid cause of action in order for the joinder to be legitimate." Triggs, 154 F.3d at 1287. The removing party must establish fraudulent joinder by clear and convincing evidence. Henderson v. Washington Nat'l Ins. Co., 454 F.3d 1278, 1281 (11th C i r . 2006). When f r a u d u l e n t joinder is established by the removing party, "the federal court must dismiss the n o n - d i v e r s e d e f e n d a n t and d e n y any m o t i o n to remand the matter back to state court." Florence v. Crescent Res., LLC, 484 F.3d 1293, 1297 (11th Cir. 2007). On J u l y 2, 2008, the c o n s u m e r s moved t h e federal district court to remand the two actions to the Calhoun C i r c u i t Court, arguing that St. J o h n ' s N u t r i t i o n was not fraudulently joined 4
  5. 5. 1071708 so as to defeat jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship. The consumers argued in their motion that TexAmerican Food B l e n d i n g had f a i l e d t o e s t a b l i s h by c l e a r and convincing evidence that there existed no possibility that causes of action for breach of the implied warranties of merchantability and f i t n e s s f o r a p a r t i c u l a r p u r p o s e c o u l d be stated against S t . John's N u t r i t i o n . R e l y i n g upon t h e sealed- container doctrine, TexAmerican Food B l e n d i n g argued that the consumers could not possibly establish causes of action against St. John's Nutrition for breach of the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose because, i t argued, there existed no causal relationship between the conduct of S t . John's Nutrition and the allegedly defective product. Following a hearing, the federal district court, on September 8, 2008, entered an order finding that TexAmerican Food Blending had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that the consumers' claims exceeded the j u r i s d i c t i o n a l amount of $75,000. However, the federal district court concluded that i t i s not c l e a r under Alabama law whether c l a i m s alleging the breach of the implied warranties of m e r c h a n t a b i l i t y and 5
  6. 6. 1071708 fitness f o r a p a r t i c u l a r purpose are subject to the defense of the sealed-container doctrine. I f the consumers' claims against S t . John's N u t r i t i o n a l l e g i n g breach of the implied warranties of m e r c h a n t a b i l i t y and f i t n e s s for a particular purpose are barred as a m a t t e r o f l a w by t h e sealed-container doctrine, then the joinder of S t . John's Nutrition as a defendant i n the actions would be considered fraudulent. Therefore, the federal district court, pursuant to Rule 18, Ala. R. A p p . P., certified the following question to this Court: "Whether, under Alabama's U n i f o r m Commercial C o d e , a r e t a i l s e l l e r who h a s p u r c h a s e d g o o d s f r o m a reputable manufacturer i n enclosed, pre-packaged and s e a l e d c o n t a i n e r s , w i t h a l l e g e d imperfections that cannot be discovered by the exercise of reasonable c a r e by t h e s e l l e r , c a n be h e l d liable f o r any a l l e g e d i m p e r f e c t i o n s i n t h e p r o d u c t under an implied warranty of merchantability and o r f i t n e s s f o rp a r t i c u l a r purpose; or whether, i n s t e a d , the UCC imposes strict liability upon a r e t a i l seller o f goods t h e r e b y eradicating the 'lack of proximate cause defense' p r o v i d e d t o r e t a i l s e l l e r s u n d e r t h e AEMLD, a s s e t f o r t h i n A t k i n s v . A m e r i c a n M o t o r s C o r p . , 335 S o . 2 d 134 ( A l a . 1 9 7 6 ) . " The former United States Court of Appeals f o r the F i f t h Circuit, i n the f i r s t case using the c e r t i f i c a t i o n procedure adopted i n Amendment No. 328, § 6.02, A l a b a m a Constitution 1901 (now A r t . V I , § 1 4 0 , O f f . R e c o m p . ) , stated: 6
  7. 7. 1071708 " F i v e q u e s t i o n s were c e r t i f i e d b u t , f o l l o w i n g o u r u s u a l p r a c t i c e , we l e f t i t t o t h e A l a b a m a C o u r t t o f o r m u l a t e t h e i s s u e s . A s was t h e i r p r e r o g a t i v e , the Alabama C o u r t d i d j u s t t h a t and c o n s i d e r e d the basic issues rather than r e p l y i n g c a t e g o r i c a l l y to the c e r t i f i e d questions." Barnes v. A t l a n t i c & P a c i f i c Life I n s . Co. of America, 53 0 F.2d 9 8 , 99 ( 5 t h C i r . 1976) (footnote omitted). Consistent with this prerogative, we note that the question as framed by the f e d e r a l district court refers to "strict liability" as "eradicating the 'lack of proximate cause defense.'" However, as the Court noted i n Atkins v. American Motors Corp., 335 So. 2d 134 ( A l a . 1976), the recognition of a defense of lack of causal relation arising from a defendant's activities i n connection with handling the product and i t s defective condition " i s n o t t o be confused with t h e b u r d e n w h i c h r e s t s on t h e p l a i n t i f f to prove that h i s injuries and damages were the proximate result of the defective condition of the product." Atkins, 335 So. 2d a t 143 n.4. Finally, Alabama's Uniform Commercial Code ("the UCC") is equally attentive to the plaintiff's burden of establishing proximate cause. See, e.g., § 7-2-715(2)(b), Ala. Code 1975 ("Consequential damages resulting from the seller's breach include: ... Injury to person or property 7
  8. 8. 1071708 proximately resulting from any b r e a c h of warranty." (emphasis added)); § 7-2-314, A l a . Code 1975, O f f i c i a l Comment, 5 13 ("In an a c t i o n based on b r e a c h of warranty, i t i s of course necessary t o show n o t o n l y t h e e x i s t e n c e o f t h e w a r r a n t y b u t the fact that the warranty was b r o k e n and t h a t the breach of the warranty was t h e p r o x i m a t e cause of the loss sustained." (emphasis added)). We therefore rephrase the q u e s t i o n posed by t h e f e d e r a l district c o u r t as follows: " W h e t h e r , u n d e r t h e UCC, a r e t a i l s e l l e r who h a s purchased goods from a r e p u t a b l e m a n u f a c t u r e r i n enclosed, pre-packaged and s e a l e d c o n t a i n e r s , w i t h a l l e g e d i m p e r f e c t i o n s t h a t c a n n o t be d i s c o v e r e d b y the e x e r c i s e of r e a s o n a b l e care by t h e s e l l e r , can be h e l d l i a b l e f o r a n y a l l e g e d i m p e r f e c t i o n s i n t h e p r o d u c t u n d e r an i m p l i e d w a r r a n t y o f m e r c h a n t a b i l i t y and/or fitness for particular purpose; or, put a n o t h e r w a y , w h e t h e r t h e UCC i m p o s e s l i a b i l i t y u p o n a r e t a i l s e l l e r o f goods w i t h o u t t h e a v a i l a b i l i t y o f the defense of 'lack of c a u s a l r e l a t i o n ' p r o v i d e d t o retail s e l l e r s u n d e r t h e AEMLD, a s s e t f o r t h i n A t k i n s v. American Motors Corp., 335 S o . 2 d 134 (Ala. 1976)." Only the consumers, TexAmerican Food B l e n d i n g , and Wright Enrichment, I n c . , have filed briefs with this Court. Discussion In B r a d f o r d v. Moore Brothers Feed & Grocery, 268 A l a . 217, 105 So. 2d 825 (1 9 5 8 ) , this Court recognized the 8
  9. 9. 1071708 availability of the sealed-container doctrine to claims asserting the breach of implied warranties against retail sellers arising under the Uniform Sales Act. 3 The v i e w that the sealed-container defense survived the c r e a t i o n of implied warranties under the Uniform Sales A c t has been d e s c r i b e d as the m i n o r i t y view. S e e Sams v . E z y - W a y F o o d l i n e r C o . , 157 Me. 10, 18-19, 170 A . 2 d 1 6 0 , 165 ( 1 9 6 1 ) , citing K i r k l a n d v. Great Atlantic & Pacific T e a C o . , 2 3 3 A l a . 4 0 4 , 171 S o . 735 (1936); Bradford v. Moore Bros. Feed & Grocery, supra; Wilkes v. Memphis G r o c e r y C o . , 23 T e n n . A p p . 5 5 0 , 134 S.W.2d 929 (1939); and Green v. W i l s o n , 194 A r k . 1 6 5 , 105 S.W.2d 1074 ( 1 9 3 7 ) , as expressing the minority rule and d e s c r i b i n g t h e opposing view as supported by " t h e g r e a t weight of authority." Our Court justified the a v a i l a b i l i t y of the sealed-container d e f e n s e on the theory that the Uniform Sales A c t was d e c l a r a t i v e o f t h e common l a w . See B r a d f o r d , 268 A l a . a t 2 2 0 , 105 S o . 2 d a t 8 2 7 . Other courts reached the opposite conclusion. S e e , e . g . , Sams v . E z y - W a y F o o d l i n e r C o . , 157 Me. a t 2 1 , 170 A . 2 d a t 166 ("The Uniform Sales Act i n establishing implied warranties under S e c t i o n 15 e n d e d o u r ' s e a l e d c o n t a i n e r ' r u l e a t common law."). The 3 Uniform S a l e s A c t was r e p e a l e d when t h e UCC was enacted. See § 7 - 1 0 - 1 0 2 ( 1 ) , A l a . Code 1 9 7 5 . 9
  10. 10. 1071708 We cannot, however, view the enactment o f t h e UCC as a legislative exercise that i s merely declaratory o f t h e common law. See O f f i c i a l Comment t o § 7 - 1 - 1 0 3 , A l a . Code 1 9 7 5 : "2. ... T h e r e f o r e , w h i l e p r i n c i p l e s o f common law a n d e q u i t y may s u p p l e m e n t p r o v i s i o n s of the U n i f o r m C o m m e r c i a l C o d e , t h e y may n o t b e u s e d t o supplant i t s provisions, or the purposes and p o l i c i e s those p r o v i s i o n s r e f l e c t , unless a s p e c i f i c p r o v i s i o n o f t h e U n i f o r m C o m m e r c i a l Code provides otherwise. In t h e absence of such a p r o v i s i o n , t h e Uniform Commercial Code preempts p r i n c i p l e s of common l a w a n d e q u i t y t h a t a r e i n c o n s i s t e n t with e i t h e r i t s p r o v i s i o n s o r i t s purposes and p o l i c i e s . " Section 7-2-314, A l a . Code 1975, p r o v i d e s : "(1) Unless excluded or modified (Section 7-2-316), a warranty that t h e goods shall be merchantable i s implied i n a contract f o r t h e i r sale i f t h e s e l l e r i s a merchant w i t h r e s p e c t t o goods o f that kind. Under t h i s s e c t i o n t h e s e r v i n g f o r v a l u e of food or drink t o b e c o n s u m e d e i t h e r on t h e premises or elsewhere i s a sale. "(2) Goods t o be m e r c h a n t a b l e must be a t l e a s t such as: "(a) Pass w i t h o u t objection i n the trade under t h e c o n t r a c t d e s c r i p t i o n ; and "(b) In t h e case o f f u n g i b l e goods, are of f a i r average q u a l i t y w i t h i n the d e s c r i p t i o n ; and "(c) Are f i t f o r t h e o r d i n a r y purposes for w h i c h such goods a r e used; and "(d) Run, within the variations permitted by t h e agreement, o f even k i n d , 10
  11. 11. 1071708 q u a l i t y and q u a n t i t y w i t h i n each u n i t and among a l l u n i t s i n v o l v e d ; a n d "(e) Are adequately contained, p a c k a g e d , a n d l a b e l e d a s t h e a g r e e m e n t may r e q u i r e ; and "(f) Conform to the promises or a f f i r m a t i o n s o f f a c t made o n t h e c o n t a i n e r or l a b e l i f any." No p r o v i s i o n i s made f o r a d e f e n s e to a claim of a breach of an implied warranty under § 7-2-314 based on the sealed- container doctrine. We v i e w t h i s s i l e n c e as an a b r o g a t i o n of the common-law defense, rather than permission to carry i t forward. Nothing i n the O f f i c i a l Comment to § 7-2-314 supports the proposition that the sealed-container d e f e n s e may be carried forward; t h e Comment i s silent on t h e e f f e c t o f care on the part of the s e l l e r once a breach of implied warranty has been e s t a b l i s h e d . We applied F l o r i d a law based on analogous p r o v i s i o n s o f t h e F l o r i d a UCC i n A m S o u t h B a n k v . Tice, 923 S o . 2 d 1 0 6 0 , 1 0 6 5 ( A l a . 2 0 0 5 ) . We there stated: "Thus, Burtman [v. T e c h n i c a l C h e m i c a l s & P r o d u c t s , 724 S o . 2 d 672 ( F l a . D i s t . C t . A p p . 1 9 9 9 ) , ] s t a n d s f o r t h e p r i n c i p l e t h a t d i s p l a c e m e n t o f a common-law r u l e u n d e r t h e UCC d o e s n o t r e q u i r e a n u n e q u i v o c a l , explicit reference t o t h e common-law r u l e being displaced. I f t h e UCC p r o v i s i o n c o n f l i c t s w i t h t h e common l a w i n some w a y , t h e common l a w m u s t b e s a i d t o be d i s p l a c e d . " 11
  12. 12. 1071708 (Emphasis added.) The rule i n Tice i s sound a n d due t o be a p p l i e d t o t h e i d e n t i c a l p r o v i s i o n s o f t h e A l a b a m a UCC dealing with the applicability of the common law following the adoption o f t h e UCC. Any o t h e r r e s u l t would run counter to the p r i n c i p l e s of l i a b i l i t y e s t a b l i s h e d i n § 7-2-314. Indeed, the availability of the sealed-container defense to a claim based on a p r o d u c t that arrives i n a sealed package would be irreconcilable with the simultaneous recognition of a claim arising from the sale of a product that does n o t a r r i v e i n a sealed package y e t has component parts, such as an engine crankcase, equally concealed from view, that might contain a defective piston. Of c o u r s e , under the l a t t e r circumstance, a claim o f b r e a c h o f an i m p l i e d w a r r a n t y w o u l d unquestionably exist. Recognition of the sealed-container defense to claims of b r e a c h o f i m p l i e d w a r r a n t y u n d e r § 7-2-314 i s a p o l i c y m a t t e r best left t o t h e wisdom of the l e g i s l a t u r e . Other states have r e s o l v e d the question by s t a t u t e i n favor o f and 4 against 4 S e e N.C. G e n . S t a t . A n n . § 9 9 B - 2 ( a ) ( 2 0 0 7 ) ("No p r o d u c t liability a c t i o n , e x c e p t an a c t i o n f o r b r e a c h o f e x p r e s s w a r r a n t y , s h a l l be commenced o r m a i n t a i n e d a g a i n s t any s e l l e r when t h e p r o d u c t was a c q u i r e d and s o l d by t h e s e l l e r i n a s e a l e d c o n t a i n e r o r when t h e p r o d u c t was a c q u i r e d a n d s o l d b y the seller under circumstances i n which the s e l l e r was 12
  13. 13. 1071708 the availability of the defense. 5 The treatment of this identical issue in Georgia is especially instructive. In P i e r c e v. Liberty Furniture Co., 141 Ga. App. 175, 176, 233 S.E.2d 33, 35 (1977), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Alltrade, Inc. v. M c D o n a l d , 213 Ga. App. 758, 445 S . E . 2 d 856 (1 9 9 4 ) , a furniture store sold a porch-swing kit in a sealed container i t had received from the manufacturer of the swing. The customer assembled the swing, sat i n i t , and was i n j u r e d when a piece of hardware failed. She sued the retailer under the Georgia a f f o r d e d no r e a s o n a b l e o p p o r t u n i t y t o i n s p e c t t h e p r o d u c t i n s u c h a manner t h a t w o u l d have or s h o u l d have, i n the e x e r c i s e of reasonable care, r e v e a l e d the e x i s t e n c e of the c o n d i t i o n c o m p l a i n e d o f , u n l e s s t h e s e l l e r damaged or m i s h a n d l e d the product w h i l e i n h i s p o s s e s s i o n ; p r o v i d e d , t h a t the p r o v i s i o n s of t h i s s e c t i o n s h a l l not a p p l y i f the m a n u f a c t u r e r of the p r o d u c t i s not s u b j e c t to the j u r i s d i c t i o n of the c o u r t s of this State or i f such manufacturer has been judicially declared insolvent."). 5 S e e , e.g., Tenn. Code Ann. § 29-28-106(a)(2000) ("No 'product liability a c t i o n , ' as d e f i n e d i n § 2 9 - 2 8 - 1 0 2 ( 6 ) , s h a l l be c o m m e n c e d o r m a i n t a i n e d a g a i n s t a n y s e l l e r when t h e product i s acquired and s o l d by the seller in a sealed c o n t a i n e r a n d / o r when t h e p r o d u c t i s a c q u i r e d a n d s o l d b y t h e s e l l e r under circumstances i n w h i c h t h e s e l l e r i s a f f o r d e d no r e a s o n a b l e o p p o r t u n i t y t o i n s p e c t the p r o d u c t i n such a manner which would or s h o u l d , i n the e x e r c i s e of r e a s o n a b l e care, reveal the existence of the defective condition. The p r o v i s i o n s of the f i r s t sentence of t h i s s u b s e c t i o n s h a l l not a p p l y t o : (1) A c t i o n s b a s e d u p o n a b r e a c h o f w a r r a n t y , express o r i m p l i e d , as d e f i n e d b y t i t l e 47, c h a p t e r 2 "). 13
  14. 14. 1071708 version o f t h e UCC, § 2 - 2 1 4 , alleging breach of the implied warranty of merchantability. Reversing a summary j u d g m e n t i n favor of the retailer, the Court of Appeals of Georgia concluded that there was e v i d e n c e indicating that the swing was unfit f o r the ordinary purposes f o rwhich such goods a r e used and t h a t the r e t a i l e r could be h e l d liable f o r breach of the implied warranty of merchantability. Addressing the sealed-container defense, the Georgia court stated: " A l l o f t h e p o s t - U . C . C . a u t h o r i t y t h a t we h a v e studied indicates that the implied warranty of m e r c h a n t a b i l i t y does n o t base any d i s t i n c t i o n s upon whether o r n o t goods a r e s o l d i n t h e i r original packages. S e e , e . g . , R. Anderson, 1 Uniform C o m m e r c i a l C o d e § 2 - 3 1 4 : 7 0 - 7 2 ( 2 d e d . 1970 ) ; G. Kock, Georgia Commercial Practice 40-41 (1964); White, 'Sales W a r r a n t i e s Under G e o r g i a ' s Uniform C o m m e r c i a l Code,' 1 Ga. S t a t e B a r J . 1 9 1 , 196-97 (1964). The p r o v i s i o n , i n fact, establishes a concept f o r r e t a i l e r s s i m i l a r t o that employed i n Code A n n . § 105-106, s u p r a , b y w h i c h m a n u f a c t u r e r s may b e h e l d s t r i c t l y l i a b l e f o r d e f e c t i v e products. " P r i o r t o t h e e n a c t m e n t o f t h e U.C.C., G e o r g i a adhered to the 'sealed container doctrine.' See Wood v . Hub M o t o r C o . , 110 G a . A p p . 1 0 1 ( 2 ) , 137 S . E . 2 d 674 ( 1 9 6 4 ) ; M a r o n e y v . M o n t g o m e r y W a r d & C o . , 7 2 G a . A p p . 4 8 5 , 34 S . E . 2 d 302 ( 1 9 4 5 ) ; B e l v . A d l e r , 63 G a . A p p . 4 7 3 ( 2 ) , 11 S . E . 2 d 495 ( 1 9 4 0 ) . According t o t h a t d o c t r i n e , no w a r r a n t y o f m e r c h a n t a b i l i t y applied as t o t h e r e t a i l e r o f goods i n their original packages, manufactured by reputable m a n u f a c t u r e r s , and i n g e n e r a l use i n the r e t a i l 14
  15. 15. 1071708 trade. I n Wood v . Hub M o t o r C o . , s u p r a , h o w e v e r , i t was s p e c i f i c a l l y n o t e d t h a t t h i s l i n e o f d e c i s i o n s was b a s e d o n C o d e § 9 6 - 3 0 1 , w h i c h was r e p e a l e d w i t h t h e a d v e n t o f t h e U.C.C. i n G e o r g i a . "Since t h e a d o p t i o n o f t h e U.C.C., several G e o r g i a cases have a p p l i e d t h e i m p l i e d w a r r a n t y o f m e r c h a n t a b i l i t y t o r e t a i l e r s o f goods s o l d i n s e a l e d packages. I n F e n d e r v . C o l o n i a l S t o r e s , I n c . , 138 Ga. App. 3 1 ( 1 ) ( A ) , 225 S.E.2d 691 (1976), the p l a i n t i f f took a s i x - p a c k carton of Coca-Cola from a shelf i n the supermarket. She t h e n p r o c e e d e d t o the c h e c k - o u t c o u n t e r , and p l a c e d t h e c a r t o n upon the c o u n t e r , a t which time a b o t t l e e x p l o d e d and injured her. She s u e d t h e s u p e r m a r k e t a n d s u f f e r e d a directed verdict. T h i s c o u r t h e l d , on p. 35, 225 S.E.2d p. 695, ' t h a t C o c a - C o l a b o t t l e s w h i c h w o u l d break under normal h a n d l i n g a r e not f i t f o r t h e o r d i n a r y u s e f o r w h i c h t h e y w e r e i n t e n d e d ... ' a n d thus t h e r e was a prima facie showing by t h e plaintiff o f a c l a i m u n d e r t h e U.C.C.'s i m p l i e d warranty of merchantability. T h e c a s e was r e m a n d e d for a jury t r i a l . " C h a f f i n v . A t l a n t a C o c a C o l a e t c . C o . , 127 G a . A p p . 6 1 9 ( 1 ) , 194 S . E . 2 d 5 1 3 ( 1 9 7 2 ) , a l s o d e a l s w i t h a b o t t l e d s o f t d r i n k w h i c h was n o t m e r c h a n t a b l e . I n t h i s c a s e t h e p l a i n t i f f ' s d a u g h t e r p u r c h a s e d a Coke from a vending machine a t a B i gApple g r o c e r y s t o r e . The p l a i n t i f f was i n j u r e d w h i l e d r i n k i n g a n i m p u r e s u b s t a n c e w h i c h was c o n t a i n e d i n t h e b o t t l e . The p l a i n t i f f s u e d t h e g r o c e r y s t o r e on s e v e r a l g r o u n d s , including that of breach o f t h e U.C.C. implied warranty of merchantability. The j u d g e r e f u s e d t o c h a r g e t h e j u r y as t o t h e i m p l i e d w a r r a n t y , and t h e j u r y found against the p l a i n t i f f . This court held that the t r i a l court erred i n i t s r e f u s a l to charge. "Numerous o t h e r c a s e s f r o m t h i s c o u r t , w h i l e n o t d e a l i n g s p e c i f i c a l l y w i t h goods s o l d i n o r i g i n a l c o n t a i n e r s , have used a s t r i c t l i a b i l i t y a p p r o a c h t o h o l d r e t a i l e r s l i a b l e f o r damage, s u f f e r e d due t o a 15
  16. 16. 1071708 breach of the U.C.C. implied warranty of merchantability. Redfern Meats v. H e r t z , 134 G a . A p p . 3 8 1 , 2 1 5 S . E . 2 d 10 ( 1 9 7 5 ) ( i m p r o p e r l y operating t r u c k ) ; R a y v . D e a s , 112 G a . A p p . 1 9 1 , 144 S . E . 2 d 468 (1965) ( f o r e i g n s u b s t a n c e i n h a m b u r g e r ) . " 141 Ga. A p p . a t 1 7 6 - 7 8 , 233 S.E.2d a t 35-36 (emphasis added). A subsequent enactment of t h e Georgia L e g i s l a t u r e has d e p r i v e d Pierce v. L i b e r t y Furniture Co. o f p r e c e d e n t i a l value as t o its treatment of a separate issue involving strict liability. See Ga. Code A n n . § 5 1 - 1 - 1 1 . 1 (2006). When t h e A l a b a m a L e g i s l a t u r e e n a c t e d t h e UCC, i t repealed the Uniform Sales Act. See § 7 - 1 0 - 1 0 2 ( 1 ) , Ala. Code 1 9 7 5 . The now r e p e a l e d Uniform Sales A c t was a c k n o w l e d g e d by this Court t o be the basis f o r the sealed-container defense i n Bradford, 268 A l a . a t 2 2 0 , 105 S o . 2 d a t 8 2 7 . On t h e same rationale as t h a t employed by t h e G e o r g i a appellate court i n Pierce v. Liberty Furniture Co., we conclude that the replacement of the Uniform Sales Act with t h e UCC eliminated the sealed-container defense. The recourse of the r e t a i l e r under t h e circumstance here presented i s a claim against i t ss e l l e r on i t s breach of implied warranty, not absolution. See Pierce v. Liberty Furniture C o . , 141 G a . A p p . a t 1 7 8 , 2 3 3 S . E . 2 d a t 3 6 , s t a t i n g 16
  17. 17. 1071708 the correct result under analogous provisions of the Georgia UCC: " I t s h o u l d be n o t e d t h a t u n d e r t h i s h o l d i n g a retailer i s n o t a d e f e n s e l e s s p a r t y who w i l l be c a u g h t w i t h a m o n e t a r y l o s s due t o a n o t h e r ' s f a u l t y construction of products. The r e t a i l e r ' s r e m e d y i s an a c t i o n o v e r a g a i n s t h i s s e l l e r n o t e x c u l p a t i o n . The retailer may rely on the wholesaler or manufacturer to supply merchantable goods, and i f t h e y a r e n o t m e r c h a n t a b l e , t h e r e t a i l e r h a s t h e same c l a i m f o r b r e a c h o f w a r r a n t y as i t s customer had against i t . " We answer the c e r t i f i e d question i n the affirmative and hold that the s e a l e d - c o n t a i n e r defense i s not a v a i l a b l e to the retail seller of food products i n claims asserting a breach of implied warranty under t h e UCC. QUESTION ANSWERED. Cobb, C.J., and Woodall, Parker, and Murdock, J J . , concur. Stuart, Smith, Bolin, a n d Shaw, J J . , d i s s e n t . 17
  18. 18. 1071708 BOLIN, Justice (dissenting). Because I believe that the enactment of Alabama's Uniform Commercial Code ("the UCC") did not abrogate the sealed- container defense, I must r e s p e c t f u l l y d i s s e n t from the main opinion. Section 7-2-314, A l a . Code 1975, provides: "(1) Unless excluded or modified (Section 7-2-316), a warranty that the goods shall be merchantable i s implied i n a contract f o r t h e i r sale i f the s e l l e r i s a merchant w i t h r e s p e c t t o goods of that kind. Under t h i s s e c t i o n the s e r v i n g f o r v a l u e of food or d r i n k t o be c o n s u m e d e i t h e r on the premises or elsewhere i s a s a l e . "(2) Goods t o be merchantable m u s t be at least such as: "(a) Pass w i t h o u t o b j e c t i o n in the trade under the c o n t r a c t d e s c r i p t i o n ; and "(b) In the case of f u n g i b l e goods, are of f a i r average quality within the description; and "(c) Are f i t f o r the o r d i n a r y purposes for w h i c h s u c h goods a r e u s e d ; and "(d) Run, within the variations p e r m i t t e d by t h e a g r e e m e n t , of even k i n d , q u a l i t y and q u a n t i t y w i t h i n each u n i t and among a l l u n i t s i n v o l v e d ; a n d "(e) Are adequately contained, p a c k a g e d , a n d l a b e l e d as t h e a g r e e m e n t may r e q u i r e ; and 18
  19. 19. 1071708 "(f) Conform to the promises or a f f i r m a t i o n s o f f a c t made o n t h e c o n t a i n e r or l a b e l i f any." Section 7-2-315, A l a . Code 1975, p r o v i d e s : "Where t h e s e l l e r a t t h e t i m e o f c o n t r a c t i n g h a s r e a s o n t o know a n y p a r t i c u l a r p u r p o s e f o r w h i c h t h e g o o d s a r e r e q u i r e d a n d t h a t t h e b u y e r i s r e l y i n g on the s e l l e r ' s s k i l l o r judgment t o s e l e c t o r f u r n i s h s u i t a b l e goods, t h e r e i s u n l e s s e x c l u d e d o r m o d i f i e d u n d e r S e c t i o n 7-2-316 an i m p l i e d w a r r a n t y t h a t t h e goods s h a l l be f i t f o r s u c h p u r p o s e . " It i s clear under Alabama law that i n order to establish a breach-of-an-implied-warranty claim, a plaintiff must prove that the breach was the proximate cause of the p l a i n t i f f ' s injury. See C a i n v . S h e r a t o n P e r i m e t e r P a r k S o u t h H o t e l , 592 So. 2 d 2 1 8 , 2 2 1 ( A l a . 1 9 9 1 ) ("Under b o t h t h e [ A l a b a m a Extended Manufacturer's Liability Doctrine] and § 7-2-314, the defect or l a c k o f m e r c h a n t a b i l i t y , o f c o u r s e , must be p r o v e d t o h a v e been the proximate cause of the p l a i n t i f f ' s injuries."); Ex parte General Motors Corp., 7 6 9 S o . 2 d 903 ( A l a . 1 9 9 3 ) ; Rose v. General Motors Corp., 323 F. Supp. 2d 1244 (N.D. Ala. 2004); and Chase v. Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., 140 F. S u p p . 2 d 1 2 8 0 , 1 2 8 9 (M.D. A l a . 2 0 0 1 ) ("In a n a c t i o n f o r breach of the implied warranty of fitness fora particular purpose, the Plaintiffs must prove: (1) t h e e x i s t e n c e of the implied 19
  20. 20. 1071708 warranty; (2) b r e a c h o f t h e i m p l i e d w a r r a n t y ; and (3) d a m a g e s proximately r e s u l t i n g from that breach. Barrington Corp. v. Patrick L u m b e r Co., I n c . , 447 So. 2d 785, 787 (Ala. Civ. App. 1984)."). Alabama has historically adhered to the common-law sealed-container doctrine as a defense to the element of causation. The sealed-container doctrine was first established in this s t a t e i n D o t h a n C h e r o - C o l a B o t t l i n g Co. v. Weeks, 16 A l a . App. 639, 80 So. 734 (1918). I n Weeks, the plaintiff sued the manufacturer of a bottled soda after ingesting the t a i n t e d c o n t e n t s o f t h e b o t t l e and was awarded $10 i n damages. The defendant argued that the plaintiff's complaint sounded in tort and, therefore, that the plaintiff was a l l o w e d t o r e c o v e r no m o r e c o s t s t h a n damages p u r s u a n t to § 3 6 6 3 o f t h e 1907 Code. In a f f i r m i n g the judgment, the Court of Appeals stated: " I t i s a w e l l - s e t t l e d r u l e of law t h a t where a m a n u f a c t u r e r s e l l s a r t i c l e s o f h i s own make i n t h e absence of an express warranty, a warranty by i m p l i c a t i o n of law a r i s e s t h a t such a r t i c l e s are r e a s o n a b l y f i t f o r the p u r p o s e s f o r w h i c h t h e y were intended. So i n t h e a b s e n c e o f an e x p r e s s w a r r a n t y the law i m p l i e s t h a t the m a n u f a c t u r e r or p a c k e r of f o o d s , b e v e r a g e s , d r u g s , c o n d i m e n t s , and c o n f e c t i o n s i n t e n d e d f o r human c o n s u m p t i o n w a r r a n t s t h a t their p r o d u c t s a r e f i t f o r human c o n s u m p t i o n , and that 20
  21. 21. 1071708 t h e y have u s e d i n t h e s e l e c t i o n and p r e p a r a t i o n o f such articles that degree of care ordinarily e x e r c i s e d by p e r s o n s s k i l l e d i n the b u s i n e s s of p r e p a r i n g and p a c k i n g a r t i c l e s o f t h i s c h a r a c t e r f o r d i s t r i b u t i o n or s a l e to the g e n e r a l p u b l i c . "This w a r r a n t y i s not f o r the b e n e f i t of the retailer who purchases i n large quantities for resale, and such r e t a i l e r i s not l i a b l e to the consumer of a r t i c l e s of the c h a r a c t e r here i n v o l v e d , if he purchases of a r e p u t a b l e manufacturer or d e a l e r , and t h e g o o d s so p u r c h a s e d and s u p p l i e d by h i m a r e s u c h as a r e w i t h o u t i m p e r f e c t i o n s t h a t may be d i s c o v e r e d b y t h e e x e r c i s e o f t h e r e a s o n a b l e c a r e o f a p e r s o n s k i l l e d and e x p e r i e n c e d i n d e a l i n g i n and s u p p l y i n g goods t o t h e g e n e r a l p u b l i c . 'As t o h i d d e n i m p e r f e c t i o n s , t h e c o n s u m e r m u s t be d e e m e d t o have relied on the care of the packer or m a n u f a c t u r e r o r t h e w a r r a n t y w h i c h i s h e l d t o be i m p l i e d by t h e l a t t e r . ' 29 R . C . L . p . 1 1 2 4 , § 2 9 . T h i s w a r r a n t y i s r a i s e d by i m p l i c a t i o n of law, f o r the benefit and protection of the consumer, r e g a r d l e s s of the absence of express contractual r e l a t i o n s between p a r t i e s , and i s e n f o r c e a b l e by contract remedies. ... "The second count of the c o m p l a i n t clearly states facts from which the law would imply a w a r r a n t y as b e t w e e n t h e d e f e n d a n t a n d t h e p l a i n t i f f t h a t the c o n t e n t s of the b o t t l e of C h e r o - C o l a were f i t f o r human c o n s u m p t i o n , a n d t h a t t h e d e f e n d a n t had u s e d , i n t h e s e l e c t i o n and p r e p a r a t i o n o f t h i s d r i n k , t h a t degree of c a r e o r d i n a r i l y e x e r c i s e d by persons s k i l l e d i n the b u s i n e s s of p r e p a r i n g such d r i n k s f o r d i s t r i b u t i o n and s a l e t o t h e p u b l i c , and further states facts showing a breach of such warranty. We t h e r e f o r e h o l d that the c o m p l a i n t , when l i b e r a l l y c o n s t r u e d t o s u p p o r t t h e j u d g m e n t , s t a t e s a c a u s e o f a c t i o n ex c o n t r a c t u , and i s i n assumpsit f o r a breach of i m p l i e d w a r r a n t y , and u n d e r t h e p r o v i s i o n s o f s e c t i o n 3662 o f t h e C o d e a s a m e n d e d , t h e c o u r t was i n v e s t e d w i t h a d i s c r e t i o n i n 21
  22. 22. 1071708 the taxation of costs according to the equities of the case." Weeks, 16 Ala. App. at 640 , 80 So. at 735 (citations omitted). In K i r k l a n d v. Great A t l a n t i c & Pacific Tea Co., 233 Ala. 404, 171 So. 735 (1936), this Court applied the sealed- container doctrine to a retail transaction. In K i r k l a n d , the plaintiff p u r c h a s e d from the defendant, a r e t a i l grocer, a bag of flour that was tainted with arsenic. The plaintiff was injured after ingesting the flour and sued the defendant, asserting a c l a i m of negligence. 6 N o t h i n g i n the plaintiff's complaint alleged that the defendant had manufactured or sacked the flour; that the arsenic found i t s way into the flour while the flour was in the defendant's possession; or that the defendant had notice or should have had notice that the sack of flour was tainted with arsenic. The trial court entered a judgment of nonsuit against the plaintiff. Kirkland, supra. In a f f i r m i n g the judgment i n f a v o r of the defendant, this Court stated: 6 This Court specifically noted i n Kirkland that the p l a i n t i f f had not a s s e r t e d a c l a i m u n d e r the U n i f o r m Sales A c t , the p r e d e c e s s o r to the UCC. 22
  23. 23. 1071708 " I n D o t h a n C h e r o - C o l a B o t t l i n g Co. e t a l . v . W e e k s , 16 A l a . A p p . 6 3 9 , 640 , 80 S o . 734 , 735 [ ( 1 9 1 8 ) ] , s p e a k i n g o f b o t t l e d s o f t d r i n k s , i t was s a i d : 'Such r e t a i l e r i s n o t l i a b l e t o t h e consumer o f a r t i c l e s o f t h e c h a r a c t e r h e r e i n v o l v e d , i f he p u r c h a s e s o f a r e p u t a b l e m a n u f a c t u r e r o r d e a l e r , and t h e goods so p u r c h a s e d and s u p p l i e d by h i m a r e s u c h a s a r e w i t h o u t i m p e r f e c t i o n s t h a t may b e d i s c o v e r e d by t h e e x e r c i s e o f t h e r e a s o n a b l e c a r e o f a p e r s o n s k i l l e d and e x p e r i e n c e d i n d e a l i n g i n and s u p p l y i n g goods t o t h e g e n e r a l p u b l i c . B i g e l o w v. Maine C e n t r a l R.R. C o . , 110 Me. 1 0 5 , 85 A. 3 9 6 , 43 L.R.A. (N.S.) 627 [ ( 1 9 1 2 ) ] ; W i n s o r v . L o m b a r d , 18 P i c k . ([35] Mass.) 57 [(1836)]. "As to hidden i m p e r f e c t i o n s , t h e c o n s u m e r must be deemed t o have r e l i e d on t h e c a r e o f t h e p a c k e r o r m a n u f a c t u r e r o r t h e w a r r a n t y w h i c h i s h e l d t o be i m p l i e d by t h e l a t t e r . " 29 R . C . L . p . 1 1 2 4 , § 2 9 . ' "This case h a s b e e n d i s a p p r o v e d on another point, but not as to the above statement. Birmingham C h e r o - C o l a B o t t l i n g Co. v . C l a r k , [205 Ala. 678 , 89 So. 64 (1921 ) ] . We deem this announcement i n k e e p i n g w i t h t h e b e t t e r r e a s o n and t h e t r e n d o f m o d e r n a u t h o r i t y on t h e s u b j e c t . ... " I n t h i s d a y t h e g r o c e r ' s s t o c k c o n s i s t s i n much of canned goods, goods i n b o t t l e s , c a r t o n s , s a c k s , p a c k a g e s o f g r e a t v a r i e t y , p u t up u n d e r p u r e f o o d regulations, and s o l d a t r e t a i l i n t h e unopened package. I n common r e a s o n t h e g r o c e r c o u l d n o t inspect the contents of every sack of f l o u r he handles. No o n e e x p e c t s h i m t o do s o . To i m p o s e a l e g a l d u t y s o t o do i s t o o e x a c t i n g . The l e g a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y s h o u l d r e s t w h e r e i t b e l o n g s , on h i m who made the package and inclosed poisonous substances therein. I n t h e a b s e n c e o f some a v e r m e n t d i s c l o s i n g t h a t t h e p o i s o n f o u n d i t s way i n t o t h e sack of f l o u r here i n v o l v e d w h i l e under t h e c o n t r o l o f t h e r e t a i l e r , o r some f a c t c h a r g i n g h i m w i t h l a c k 23
  24. 24. 1071708 of c a r e i n s e l e c t i n g and s e l l i n g t h a t particular f l o u r , t h e c o m p l a i n t was s u b j e c t t o d e m u r r e r . " Kirkland, 233 A l a . a t 4 0 6 - 0 7 , 171 S o . a t 7 3 7 . T h i s C o u r t , i n B r a d f o r d v. Moore B r o t h e r s Feed & G r o c e r y , 268 Ala. 217, 105 So. 2d 825 (1958), reaffirmed the application of the sealed-container doctrine to claims asserting a breach of implied warranties against retail sellers a r i s i n g under the Uniform Sales Act. In Bradford, the plaintiff purchased from the defendant sacks of "cow feed" that were infested w i t h mold. The defendant, a retailer in commercial feed, sold the feed in original, unopened sacks t h a t had been packed by t h e m a n u f a c t u r e r . The p l a i n t i f f sued the defendant, alleging a breach o f an i m p l i e d warranty, and the trial court entered a directed verdict i n favor of the defendant. R e l y i n g upon Weeks, supra, and K i r k l a n d , supra, the defendant argued on appeal that the p l a i n t i f f c o u l d not state a cause of action f o r breach of an implied warranty because a retail seller of commercial feed sold the feed to the p l a i n t i f f i n o r i g i n a l , unopened s a c k s t h a t were packed by the manufacturer. This Court stated the f o l l o w i n g w i t h regard to the sealed-container doctrine: "It i s true that t h e two c a s e s cited [Weeks a n d 24
  25. 25. 1071708 K i r k l a n d ] are a u t h o r i t y f o r the p r o p o s i t i o n t h a t the retailer who purchases in large quantities for r e s a l e i s not l i a b l e to the consumer of a r t i c l e s of f o o d f o r human c o n s u m p t i o n , i f he p u r c h a s e s o f a r e p u t a b l e m a n u f a c t u r e r o r d e a l e r , a n d t h e g o o d s so purchased and supplied by him are such as are w i t h o u t i m p e r f e c t i o n s t h a t may be d i s c o v e r e d b y t h e e x e r c i s e of the r e a s o n a b l e care of a p e r s o n s k i l l e d and e x p e r i e n c e d i n d e a l i n g i n and s u p p l y i n g goods t o the g e n e r a l p u b l i c . Cf. L o l l a r v . J o n e s , 229 Ala. 329, 157 So. 209 [(1934 ) ] . We may note here that b o t h c a s e s make t h e r u l e e x p r e s s l y a p p l i c a b l e o n l y to cases involving food intended for human consumption. B u t we may a s s u m e f o r t h e p u r p o s e s o f t h i s case, w i t h o u t d e c i d i n g , t h a t the p r i n c i p l e i s e q u a l l y e f f e c t i v e w i t h regard to feed s o l d f o r the s u b s i s t e n c e o f l i v e s t o c k and o t h e r d o m e s t i c a n i m a l s . I t w o u l d s e e m t h a t t h i s s h o u l d be so a f o r t i o r i . At l e a s t i t h a s b e e n so a p p l i e d i n o t h e r j u r i s d i c t i o n s . " I t may be a d d e d t h a t t h e g e n e r a l r u l e s t a t e d has n e i t h e r been o v e r r u l e d nor modified in this s t a t e , a l t h o u g h t h e t r e n d i s t o a more l i b e r a l r u l e i n o t h e r j u r i s d i c t i o n s p l a c i n g an i m p l i e d w a r r a n t y u p o n t h e r e t a i l s a l e o f p a c k a g e d i t e m s as w e l l as those not packaged. The trend has apparently r e c e i v e d e s p e c i a l impetus s i n c e the almost u n i v e r s a l a d o p t i o n of the U n i f o r m S a l e s A c t s . See t h e n o t e s a t 90 A . L . R . 1269 a n d 142 A . L . R . 1 4 3 4 . The a d o p t i o n of the U n i f o r m Sales Act i n Alabama (Code 1940, Title 57, §§ 1-76) has w o r k e d no change of the general rule. The r e a f f i r m a t i o n o f t h e r u l e i n t h e Kirkland case, supra, occurred i n 1936, several years subsequent to the passage of the Act i n t h i s s t a t e , and t h e c o u r t i n t h a t c a s e e x p r e s s e d t h e i r cognizance of the Act but dealt with the case without reference thereto. This position is c o n s i s t e n t w i t h t h e v i e w s t a t e d by t h i s C o u r t and generally recognized m o s t e v e r y w h e r e t h a t § 21 of the U n i f o r m Sales Act i s o n l y d e c l a r a t i v e of the common l a w . M c C a r l e y v . Wood D r u g s , I n c . , 228 A l a . 25
  26. 26. 1071708 2 2 6 , 153 S o . 446 [ ( 1 9 3 4 ) ] , 77 C . J . S . S a l e s § 3 2 9 , p . 1186. "The g e n e r a l r u l e t o w h i c h r e c o g n i t i o n i s g i v e n a b o v e , w o u l d r e q u i r e an a f f i r m a n c e w e r e i t n o t f o r t h e f a c t s p r e s e n t h e r e w h i c h we f e e l s h o u l d be t r e a t e d as w i t h i n an e x c e p t i o n t o t h e r u l e . Here the r e t a i l e r h a n d l e d , s t o r e d , o r t r e a t e d t h e goods i n a manner w h i c h w o u l d t e n d t o a l t e r t h e o r i g i n a l c o n d i t i o n o f t h e goods as t h e y were p r o d u c e d by t h e m a n u f a c t u r e r and t h e c l e a r i n f e r e n c e a r i s e s t h a t t h e r e t a i l e r had a c t u a l or c o n s t r u c t i v e n o t i c e of the d e f e c t i v e s t a t u s of t h e goods. The K i r k l a n d c a s e , s u p r a [ 2 3 3 A l a . 4 0 4 , 171 S o . 7 3 6 ] , r e c o g n i z e d s u c h a s t a t u s t o be an e x c e p t i o n t o t h e g e n e r a l r u l e w h e r e i t was o b s e r v e d : "'The c o m p l a i n t does n o t charge t h a t defendant manufactured or sacked this f l o u r ; n o r t h a t t h e p o i s o n f o u n d i t s way into the flour while in defendant's p o s s e s s i o n ; n o r t h a t a n y t h i n g on t h e s a c k , n o r t h e s o u r c e f r o m w h i c h i t came, g a v e notice to the r e t a i l e r , o r p u t h i m on inquiry touching i t s fitness f o r human consumption. F o r a u g h t a p p e a r i n g , t h i s was an ordinary sack of f l o u r , p u t up b y reliable millers, t o be sold by t h e retailer intact, f o r the convenience of b o t h merchant and customer.' "And again: "'In the absence of some averment d i s c l o s i n g t h a t t h e p o i s o n f o u n d i t s way i n t o the sack of f l o u r here i n v o l v e d w h i l e u n d e r t h e c o n t r o l o f t h e r e t a i l e r , o r some fact charging him with lack of care i n selecting and selling that particular flour, the complaint was subject to demurrer.'" 26
  27. 27. 1071708 Bradford, 268 A l a . at 219-20, 105 So. 2d at 827-28. In reversing the judgment of the trial court, this Court c o n c l u d e d t h a t e v i d e n c e was p r e s e n t e d that created a question of fact as t o whether the buyer could rely on the implied warranty i n the sale of the feed based on the defendant's having a s u p e r i o r knowledge of the c o n d i t i o n of the feed or a better opportunity f o r i n s p e c t i o n of the feed, which might h a v e g i v e n t h e d e f e n d a n t a c t u a l o r c o n s t r u c t i v e n o t i c e o f some defect in the feed pertaining to i t s merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Bradford, supra. I n A l l e n v . D e l c h a m p s , I n c . , 624 S o . 2 d 1 0 6 5 ( A l a . 1 9 9 3 ) , a case decided after the enactment o f t h e UCC, the lack of a distinct line between tort claims and claims asserting a breach o f an i m p l i e d w a r r a n t y i n tainted-food-product cases was n e v e r m o r e e v i d e n t . In A l l e n the p l a i n t i f f purchased from the defendant g r o c e r y s t o r e two b a g s o f c e l e r y h e a r t s t h a t had been prepackaged i n cellophane wrapping by the defendant's supplier. The d e f e n d a n t had i n s p e c t e d samples of the c e l e r y at i t swarehouse f o r freshness and q u a l i t y . The plaintiff ingested a piece of the raw celery and had an immediate allergic anaphylactic reaction. I t was l a t e r d e t e r m i n e d that 27
  28. 28. 1071708 the c e l e r y c o n t a i n e d sodium b i s u l f a t e , which the p l a i n t i f f , an asthmatic, was sensitive to. The p l a i n t i f f s u e d t h e d e f e n d a n t , among o t h e r s , asserting causes of action based on negligence and wantonness, the Alabama Extended M a n u f a c t u r e r ' s L i a b i l i t y Doctrine ("AEMLD"), and breach of the implied warranty of m e r c h a n t a b i l i t y under § 7-2-314, A l a . Code 1975. The t r i a l court entered a summary judgment i n favor of the defendant as t o a l l t h e plaintiff's claims. Allen, supra. This Court stated the following relative to the principles applicable to tort claims and breach-of-implied- warranty claims i n tainted-food-product cases: " I n r e g a r d t o t h e i r AEMLD c l a i m , t h e p l a i n t i f f s must p r o v e that Mrs. A l l e n 'suffered injury or d a m a g e s t o [ h e r s e l f ] o r [ h e r ] p r o p e r t y b y one who sold a product i n a defective condition unreasonably d a n g e r o u s t o t h e p l a i n t i f f as t h e u l t i m a t e u s e r o r c o n s u m e r . ' A t k i n s v . A m e r i c a n M o t o r s C o r p . , 335 S o . 2 d 1 3 4 , 141 ( A l a . 1 9 7 6 ) . S i m i l a r l y , the p l a i n t i f f s ' i m p l i e d warranty of m e r c h a n t a b i l i t y c l a i m r e q u i r e s that the p l a i n t i f f s show that t h e goods were unmerchantable or u n f i t f o r the ordinary purposes for which they are used. A l a . Code 1 9 7 5 , § 7-2-314. T h e s e t w o s t a n d a r d s 'go h a n d - i n - h a n d , ' a t l e a s t a s applied to food products, ' f o r i t i s apparent that a food product is defective or unreasonably d a n g e r o u s i f i t i s u n m e r c h a n t a b l e o r u n f i t f o r human c o n s u m p t i o n . ' C a i n v . S h e r a t o n P e r i m e t e r P a r k S. H o t e l , 592 S o . 2 d 218 , 220 ( A l a . 1 9 9 1 ) ( q u o t i n g E x p a r t e M o r r i s o n ' s C a f e t e r i a o f M o n t g o m e r y , I n c . , 4 31 28
  29. 29. 1071708 So. 2 d 9 7 5 , 977 (Ala. 1983)). "This Court has adopted the 'reasonable expectations' test f o r determining i f food i s u n m e r c h a n t a b l e o r u n r e a s o n a b l y d a n g e r o u s . C a i n , 592 So. 2 d a t 2 2 1 ; M o r r i s o n ' s , 4 3 1 S o . 2 d a t 9 7 8 . U n d e r t h i s t e s t , t h e p i v o t a l i s s u e i s what i s r e a s o n a b l y e x p e c t e d by t h e consumer i n t h e f o o d as s e r v e d , and the '[n]aturalness of the substance to any i n g r e d i e n t s i n the food served i s important only i n determining whether t h e c o n s u m e r may reasonably expect t o f i n d such substance i n t h e p a r t i c u l a r type of d i s h o r s t y l e of food served.' M o r r i s o n ' s , 431 So. 2 d a t 978 ( q u o t i n g Z a b n e r v . H o w a r d J o h n s o n ' s , Inc., 2 0 1 S o . 2 d 8 2 4 , 82 6 (Fla. Dist. C t . App. 1967)). Because t h e terms ' d e f e c t , ' 'unreasonably dangerous,' and 'merchantable' a l l focus on t h e e x p e c t a t i o n s o f t h e consumer, t h i s Court has found t h e r e a s o n a b l e e x p e c t a t i o n s t e s t t o be c o m p a t i b l e w i t h b o t h t h e AEMLD a n d t h e i m p l i e d w a r r a n t y o f merchantability. C a i n , 592 S o . 2 d a t 2 2 1 . " Allen, 624 S o . 2 d a t 1 0 6 8 . This Court reversed t h e summary j u d g m e n t i n favor of the defendant on t h e p l a i n t i f f s ' AEMLD c l a i m , 7 stating: "Delchamps a s s e r t s t h a t t h i s case i s d i f f e r e n t f r o m C a i n b e c a u s e i n C a i n t h e summary j u d g m e n t on t h e AEMLD c l a i m was b a s e d o n t h e t r i a l court's f i n d i n g t h a t t h e AEMLD d i d n o t a p p l y , w h e r e a s i n t h i s c a s e , D e l c h a m p s s a y s , t h e summary j u d g m e n t on t h e AEMLD c l a i m was b a s e d on e v i d e n c e establishing a lack of causal r e l a t i o n . To e s t a b l i s h t h e d e f e n s e o f a l a c k o f c a u s a l r e l a t i o n , t h e d e f e n d a n t may show ' t h a t t h e r e i s no c a u s a l r e l a t i o n i n f a c t b e t w e e n 7 The defendant g r o c e r y s t o r e a p p a r e n t l y f a i l e d t o argue t h e s e a l e d - c o n t a i n e r d o c t r i n e as a d e f e n s e t o t h e p l a i n t i f f s ' c l a i m a l l e g i n g b r e a c h o f i m p l i e d w a r r a n t y b e c a u s e t h e summary j u d g m e n t a s t o t h a t c l a i m was r e v e r s e d on o t h e r g r o u n d s . 29
  30. 30. 1071708 his activities i n connection with handling the product and i t s defective condition.' Atkins v. American Motors C o r p . , 335 S o . 2 d 1 3 4 , 143 ( A l a . 1976). One way to e s t a b l i s h t h i s l a c k of a causal relation is for t h e d e f e n d a n t t o show: " ' [ T ] h a t he i s i n t h e b u s i n e s s o f e i t h e r d i s t r i b u t i n g or p r o c e s s i n g f o r d i s t r i b u t i o n finished products; he r e c e i v e d a p r o d u c t a l r e a d y i n a d e f e c t i v e c o n d i t i o n ; he d i d not c o n t r i b u t e t o t h i s d e f e c t i v e c o n d i t i o n ; he h a d n e i t h e r k n o w l e d g e o f t h e d e f e c t i v e c o n d i t i o n , n o r an o p p o r t u n i t y to inspect the product which was superior to the knowledge or o p p o r t u n i t y of the consumer.' "Id. "While Delchamps showed that i t i s i n the business of d i s t r i b u t i n g f i n i s h e d products, that i t received a product already i n a defective condition, and that i t d i d not c o n t r i b u t e to the d e f e c t i v e condition, i t , nevertheless, did not show c o n c l u s i v e l y t h a t i t d i d n o t p o s s e s s an 'opportunity t o i n s p e c t t h e p r o d u c t w h i c h was s u p e r i o r t o t h e k n o w l e d g e o r o p p o r t u n i t y o f t h e c o n s u m e r . ' I d . The plaintiffs showed t h a t Delchamps d i d i n s p e c t f o r freshness and q u a l i t y and d i d have p r o c e d u r e s f o r r e q u i r i n g i t s suppliers to c e r t i f y compliance with other regulations regarding insecticides and pesticides. Whether Delchamps's opportunity to d i s c o v e r o r t o know o f t h e d e f e c t i s s u p e r i o r t o t h a t of the consumer i s a genuine i s s u e of m a t e r i a l f a c t ; therefore, the court erroneously entered the s u m m a r y j u d g m e n t a s t o t h e AEMLD c l a i m . Delchamps i s e n t i t l e d t o p r e s e n t e v i d e n c e and t o argue t h a t t h e r e was no c a u s a l r e l a t i o n b e t w e e n w h a t i t d i d o r f a i l e d t o do a n d M r s . A l l e n ' s i n j u r i e s , b u t i t m u s t do s o t o t h e f a c t f i n d e r . " Allen, 624 S o . 2 d a t 1 0 6 8 - 6 9 . Thus, t h i s Court d i d not r e j e c t 30
  31. 31. 1071708 the sealed-container doctrine as a d e f e n s e to the element of causation; rather, i tdetermined that the defendant had f a i l e d to present evidence establishing that defense as a m a t t e r o f law. It i s clear that the sealed-container doctrine was available to r e t a i l e r s of food products a t common law and under t h e Uniform Sales Act, the predecessor t o t h e UCC, a s a defense to causation i n both claims sounding i n tort and those asserting a breach o f an i m p l i e d warranty. The q u e s t i o n i s whether that defense i s still available to r e t a i l sellers of food products following the enactment o f t h e UCC. As the federal district court noted in i t s certification order to this Court, the enactment o f t h e UCC replaced the warranty provisions of the Uniform S a l e s A c t (and p r e s u m a b l y t h o s e o f t h e common l a w ) . See t h e O f f i c i a l Comment t o § 7-2¬ 314, A l a . Code 1975, s t a t i n g as " [ c ] h a n g e s " that § 15(2) of the Uniform S a l e s A c t was "[c]ompletely rewritten"; and t h e Official Comment t o § 7 - 2 - 3 1 5 , A l a . C o d e 1 9 7 5 , s t a t i n g t h a t §§ 15(1), ( 4 ) , and (5) of the Uniform Sales Act had been "[r]ewritten." S e c t i o n 7-1-103(b), A l a . Code 1975, p r o v i d e s that "[u]nless d i s p l a c e d by t h e p a r t i c u l a r provisions of t h i s 31
  32. 32. 1071708 title, t h e p r i n c i p l e s o f law and e q u i t y , including the law merchant and the law relative to capacity to contract, principal and agent, estoppel, fraud, misrepresentation, d u r e s s , c o e r c i o n , m i s t a k e , b a n k r u p t c y , and other v a l i d a t i n g or invalidating cause supplement i t s provisions." Further, " [ t ] h e U n i f o r m C o m m e r c i a l C o d e was d r a f t e d against the backdrop o f e x i s t i n g b o d i e s o f law, i n c l u d i n g the common l a w a n d e q u i t y , and r e l i e s on t h o s e b o d i e s o f l a w t o s u p p l e m e n t i t s p r o v i s i o n s i n many important ways. A t t h e same t i m e , the Uniform C o m m e r c i a l Code i s t h e p r i m a r y s o u r c e o f c o m m e r c i a l law r u l e s i n a r e a s t h a t i t g o v e r n s , and i t s r u l e s represent choices made b y i t s d r a f t e r s and t h e e n a c t i n g l e g i s l a t u r e s about t h e a p p r o p r i a t e p o l i c i e s t o be f u r t h e r e d i n the transactions i t covers. T h e r e f o r e , w h i l e p r i n c i p l e s o f common l a w a n d e q u i t y may s u p p l e m e n t p r o v i s i o n s o f t h e U n i f o r m C o m m e r c i a l Code, they may n o t be used to supplant i t s provisions, or the purposes and p o l i c i e s those provisions r e f l e c t , unless a s p e c i f i c provision of t h e U n i f o r m C o m m e r c i a l Code p r o v i d e s otherwise. In the absence o f such a provision, the Uniform C o m m e r c i a l C o d e p r e e m p t s p r i n c i p l e s o f common l a w and equity that are inconsistent with either i t s p r o v i s i o n s or i t s purposes and p o l i c i e s . " Official Comment t o § 7 - 1 - 1 0 3 , A l a . Code 1 9 7 5 . "Under § 7-1¬ 103, p r i o r e x i s t i n g law supplements the various code sections 'unless d i s p l a c e d by t h e p a r t i c u l a r p r o v i s i o n s of t h i s title.' It i s clear from this that i f t h e p a r t i c u l a r code provisions do d i s p l a c e p r i o r l a w , t h e code p r e v a i l s . " Toomey E q u i p . C o . v. C o m m e r c i a l C r e d i t E q u i p . C o r p . , 386 S o . 2 d 1 1 5 5 , 1159 ( A l a . 32
  33. 33. 1071708 Civ. App. 1980). In other words, the UCC i s to be supplemented by t h e e x i s t i n g p r i n c i p l e s o f law and e q u i t y i f no precise provision of t h e UCC applicable to the issues presented contradicts those principles. S e e H.C. Schmieding Produce Co. v . C a g l e , 529 S o . 2 d 2 4 3 ( A l a . 1988). Nothing i n the express provisions o f §§ 7-2-314 a n d - 3 1 5 indicate that previously accepted defenses were abrogated by the enactment o f t h e UCC. Nor have the p l a i n t i f f s directed this Court t o any o t h e r p r o v i s i o n o f t h e UCC that supplants the defenses available a t common law. In fact, i t appears from the Official Comment to § 7-2-314 that common-law defenses to causation were affirmatively left i n t a c t by t h e l e g i s l a t u r e when t h e UCC was e n a c t e d . The O f f i c i a l Comment t o § 7-2-314 states: " I n a n a c t i o n b a s e d on b r e a c h o f w a r r a n t y , i t i s o f c o u r s e n e c e s s a r y t o show n o t o n l y t h e e x i s t e n c e o f the warranty but the f a c t that the warranty was b r o k e n a n d t h a t t h e b r e a c h o f t h e w a r r a n t y was t h e proximate cause of the l o s s s u s t a i n e d . I n s u c h an a c t i o n an a f f i r m a t i v e s h o w i n g b y t h e s e l l e r t h a t t h e l o s s r e s u l t e d f r o m some a c t i o n o r e v e n t f o l l o w i n g his own d e l i v e r y o f t h e g o o d s c a n o p e r a t e a s a defense. Equally, evidence i n d i c a t i n g that the s e l l e r exercised care i n the manufacture, processing or s e l e c t i o n o f t h e goods i s r e l e v a n t t o t h e i s s u e o f w h e t h e r t h e w a r r a n t y was i n f a c t b r o k e n . A c t i o n b y t h e b u y e r f o l l o w i n g an e x a m i n a t i o n o f t h e g o o d s which ought t o have i n d i c a t e d t h e d e f e c t complained 33
  34. 34. 1071708 o f c a n be shown as m a t t e r b e a r i n g on w h e t h e r t h e b r e a c h i t s e l f was t h e c a u s e o f t h e i n j u r y . " Additionally, I note that because causation i s an e l e m e n t of a breach o f an implied warranty, the abrogation of the defenses available to r e t a i l defendants as t o t h a t element would have t h e e f f e c t o f making t h e r e t a i l defendant strictly liable and t h e i n s u r e r o f t h e goods i t sells. The i d e a of making a retailer the insurer o f t h e goods i tsells has been r e j e c t e d by t h i s Court. See Ex p a r t e Morrison's Cafeteria of Montgomery, I n c . , 4 3 1 S o . 2 d 9 7 5 , 979 (Ala. 1983) ("Courts cannot and must n o t i g n o r e t h e common experience of l i f e and allow rules to develop that would make sellers of food or other consumer goods insurers of the products they sell."); Atkins v. American Motors Corp., 335 S o . 2 d 1 3 4 , 142 (Ala. 1976) (rejecting the idea of s t r i c t liability u n d e r t h e AEMLD and s t a t i n g " t h a t d e f e n d a n t s who a r e o r d i n a r i l y e n g a g e d i n t h e business of marketing products should be liable f o r the foreseeable harm proximately resulting from defective conditions in the products which make them unreasonably dangerous"). Accordingly, I would hold that the sealed-container doctrine as s t a t e d i n K i r k l a n d , s u p r a , and B r a d f o r d , supra, i s 34
  35. 35. 1071708 available as a defense to the retail seller of food products in claims asserting a breach o f an implied warranty under the UCC. Stuart, Smith, and Shaw, J J . , c o n c u r . 35

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