SOMERVILLE, N.J. -- A panel of judges in the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division here has ruled that Campbell Soup Co. and Mayfair Super Markets may be sued for psychological damages related to the sale of a can of soup said to contain traces of glass and mercury.
The justices overruled Superior Court Law Division Judge Edward M. Coleman, who held that the plaintiff could only sue for physical injuries and not psychological damages.
The man seeking to file suit has alleged he ate a can of Campbell's soup, bought at a Mayfair Foodtown store, that contained glass and mercury. He contends that he can no longer eat, or even look at, soup or canned goods without becoming physically and emotionally ill.
Allegedly, after consuming half a can of Campbell's New England clam chowder in April 1990, the man, Isaac Briggs 3rd, cut his mouth on a piece of glass in the soup. A subsequent hospital visit showed he had glass and droplets of mercury in his colon, it is reported.
In 1991, Briggs fractured a rib and ruptured an ear drum after he fell down some steps when he panicked after seeing a bowl of soup in his apartment, according to local press reports.
The case will now be open to go to a jury trial. A spokeswoman for Mayfair, based in Elizabeth, N.J., said that the company cannot comment on pending litigation. Kevin Lowery, director of public information for Camden, N.J.-based Campbell's, said Campbell's believes the glass and mercury were added to the soup after the point of sale. The company will fight to clear its name, he said.
"When someone wants to go and take [claims] to serious levels and try to play hardball, then we're prepared to play hardball," he said. "We're always willing to settle these things amicably and we're not looking to alienate people."