The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEALON
Plaintiff, Nancy Hon, instituted this diversity action on September 12, 1985. Her husband, William Hon, died as a result of pancreatitis on September 12, 1983. Plaintiff alleges that her husband's consumption of alcoholic beverages -- to wit, Old Milwaukee Beer and Old Milwaukee Light Beer -- manufactured and distributed by defendant, Stroh Brewery Company, caused his death. Her Complaint contains counts based on the following theories: negligence, gross negligence, negligent misrepresentation, 402A strict products liability, 402B misrepresentation and breach of implied warranty. She also presents wrongful death and survival actions.
Plaintiff has not maintained that her husband was harmed by manufacturing or design defects in defendant's beer; rather, her action focuses upon alleged marketing defects, i.e., defendant's failure to place a warning label on its products notifying consumers of alcohol-related dangers.
Discovery revealed that plaintiff's husband drank two to three cans of beer per evening, approximately four nights per week.
See Document 31 of the record at p. 1 and Document 35 at pp. 1-2. He consumed defendant's beverages at this rate for at least six years.
See Document 31 at p. 2.
There is no evidence in the record that plaintiff's husband was ever influenced by any advertisements for defendant's products. In fact, his motivation for purchasing defendant's beverages, other than his preference for their taste, is unknown. Id.
Plaintiff submitted a Brief in Opposition to defendant's dispositive motion on December 17, 1986. She argues that defendant had a duty to warn of lesser-known dangers associated with alcohol, i.e., that a consumer who drinks beer in moderate amounts may eventually die from a pancreatic disease which was caused by ingestion of beer.
She submitted affidavits from two medical experts
in support of her claim. She also filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and a Brief in Support thereof on December 19, 1986.
Defendant submitted a Reply Memorandum in support of its summary judgment motion on December 30, 1986. After obtaining verbal approval from the court, plaintiff filed a Sur Reply Memorandum on January 9, 1987. On that same date, defendant filed a Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.
For the reasons set forth below, the court determines as a matter of law that defendant's beverages were not defective and that defendant was not under a duty to warn of the dangers cited by plaintiff. Therefore, summary judgment will be granted in favor of defendant.
The starting point for the court's analysis is Restatement (Second) of Torts § 402A which was adopted as authority in Pennsylvania in Webb v. Zern, 422 Pa. 424, 220 A.2d 853 (1966). Section 402A states:
§ 402A. Special Liability of Seller of Product for Physical Harm to User or Consumer
(1) One who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is subject to liability for physical harm thereby caused to the ...