Canadian loses bottled-fly-in-water case

Martin Mustapha of Windsor, Ont. had won $340,000 over the fly for emotional distress and phobic reaction, though neither he nor any family member had come in contact with the water in question, since they spotted the insect before opening the bottle. Now the Supreme Court of Canada has refused to disturb an appeals court’s reversal of the award, and has ordered that Mustapha pay the water company’s legal costs. (“SCC quashes man’s suit over fly in bottled water”, CTV, May 22; earlier here and here).


  • […] Updating our Apr. 26, 2005 entry, from Canada: “A Windsor, Ont., man lost out on a $341,775 court judgment yesterday, when the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that a bottling company should not have been held liable for triggering a phobia of flies that altered his personality and killed his sex life.” No one in the Mustapha family consumed the fly, or any of the water that had come into contact with it, but Waddah (Martin) Mustapha said the unsettling sight had precipitated a disabling psychological aversion. The Ontario court — applying Canada’s costs-follow-the-event principle — assessed $30,000 in costs against Mustapha. (Kirk Makin, “Appeal court rules against man haunted by fly in water bottle”, Globe and Mail, Dec. 16; opinion in Mustapha and Culligan of Canada (PDF)). More: Supreme Court of Canada rules against Mustapha (May 23, 2008) […]

  • Now that the case is closed, perhaps Mr Mustapha in the name of science could tell us how he got the fly into the bottle?

  • There’s nothing like a $30k sting to discourage similar wasteful lawsuits. This should happen a lot more often.

  • In a clear reversal of punditry, I submit that this case IS about the money…$30,000 of which will exit Mr. Mustapha’s coffers. Will they allow him some kind of payment plan?

  • The kind of folks who file this kind of suit tend to be less than wealthy. I would expect that Mustapha – a hairdresser – can’t afford to pay the $30,000.

    So, the company still loses.

  • E-Bell:

    He might not be able to afford it but his attorney should!

  • How does this ruling fit with the common law Eggshell Skull Rule that you take the victim as you find him? Rightly or wrongly, it seems to me that under the common law rule Mustapha should have won.

  • Bill, I haven’t been in law school for a while, but I think the Eggshell Skull rule is for physical idiosyncracies/vulnerabilities which result in more damage than the average bear would suffer, not mental/emotional idiosyncracies/vulnerabilities.

  • im sorry but if this affects you as much as it did him (presuming hes not lying of course) you should be locked in a mental hospital

  • Fly in a bottle… humm, that would make a good title for a book or movie…