Tennessee Appeals Court does not Extend Product Liability Defense to Oyster Suppliers

Posted on July 7th, 2014 by Denise A. DickersonDickerson

In a case appealed from the Circuit Court for Davidson County, the most recent session of the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Nashville issued an opinion holding that suppliers being sued for product liability claims were not entitled to immunity pursuant to the “sealed container doctrine” embodied in Tenn. Code Ann. §29-28-101.  In,  Aaron Bissinger, et al. v. New Country Buffett, et al., 2014 Tenn. App. LEXIS 331, the court held that the doctrine does not apply to a supplier of oysters.  They specifically rejected the argument that oysters are a sealed container since improper handling can cause growth of certain bacteria, such as vibrio vulnificus septicemia, which was the undisputed cause of death of the Plaintiff. The court also found that the suppliers met the definition of ” manufacturers” as contained in Tenn. Code Ann. §29-28-106.  The extensive opinion also discusses negligence claims against the restaurant, including negligence per se as it applies to the Tennessee Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1978.