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Tokyo man awarded Y40 million for winter jacket 'defect'

10 Comments
By RocketNews24

On Dec 2, Judge Yoshio Sawano of the Tokyo District Court ordered that the fashion brand Theory pay a 40-year-old man about 40 million yen in damages inflicted because of the way his winter jacket was designed.

According to the man, the jacket had a rubber cord running through the hood which had little plastic fasteners at the end. One fateful day, a fastener got caught on the sleeve of his coat which caused it to stretch out due to the rubber material. It was then suddenly freed and shot back towards his left eye.

The man claims that the impact of the fastener against his eye resulted in a cataract that required medical treatment. As such he requested compensation of 100 million yen through the court. However, Theory argued that the rubber cord has been a commonly used part of clothing until now and shouldn’t be considered a defect.

Judge Sawano felt differently though, and ruled that “the rubber string is long and stretchy with a fastener at the tip, so it could be said that it poses a danger to the face and eyes. Therefore the product lacks safety and has a structural defect.” He then awarded the man with 40 million yen in restitution from Theory.

Fast Retailing, the parent company of Theory and several other major brands such as Uniqlo, declined to comment until the judgement was carefully reviewed. Readers of the news, however, were all to happy to comment. Many were less than sympathetic to the victim, while some feared that this is a sign of increasing litigiousness in Japan.

“Rubber strings are scary!” “A 40-year-old man wears clothes with a rubber string?” “When you think about it, there really is no need for a rubber string in the hood, is there?” “This seems like the kind of judgment you read about happening in America.” “It seems like we’re becoming like the USA, and personally I would prefer a rubber string in my hood.” “Are cataracts that bad that you can get 40 million yen?” “I didn’t see the actual jacket, but if what they describe is a ‘structural defect’ then there must be thousands of defects everywhere.”

As the last comment alludes to, although the judgment is technically correct in terms of the safety of the cord, it takes us down a slippery slope. It would seem that had Theory used a rigid nylon cord, users of the jacket would be at an equally (if not greater) risk of choking, given the location of the cord.

When the man chose to buy a jacket with a rubber cord he should have done so knowing the inherent risks of stretchy things.

Anyway, the damages have been awarded and the precedent set. The Theory jacket in question has already been off the market for a while in case anyone out there was thinking they might try to make some extra money too.

Still, it looks as if the country has little time left before everything has an inane warning label on it and many modern conveniences are unnecessarily stripped away in the name of safety. Because the last thing the Japanese legal system needs is even more controversy.

Source: NHK via Hachima Kiko

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10 Comments
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Let me enlighten you how this happened. Theory is a US company based in New York. The judge believed it was time they treated US companies liability as the US treated Japanese companies liability cases. The legal system in Japan is just like that. It is not about principles, but putting things back in places from which they had been moved!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The judge believed it was time they treated US companies liability as the US treated Japanese companies liability cases. ah so a judge hs made a judgment on national pride rather than unbiased logic.

0 ( +1 / -2 )

Traumatic cataracts occur secondary to blunt or penetrating ocular trauma. Infrared energy (glass-blower's cataract), electric shock, and ionizing radiation are other rare causes of traumatic cataracts. Cataracts caused by blunt trauma classically form stellate- or rosette-shaped posterior axial opacities that may be stable or progressive, whereas penetrating trauma with disruption of the lens capsule forms cortical changes that may remain focal if small or may progress rapidly to total cortical opacification.

Never knew about this. Interesting. But $400,000? Wow...guess his mortgage is paid off now. Plus he has a bionic eye.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Cataracts are mostly covered by national health, so this very suspicious.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If we are reporting on legal precedent lets get the headline correct. It should read:-

Tokyo man awarded Y40 million for injury sustained by clothing design.

He wasnt awarded Y40 million because of the jacket defect, but injury resulting from the defect.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Goodluck:@Goodluck: Not suspicious at all.

Your word mostly is false. A cataract operation after using Kokumin Kumiai health insurance is ¥42,300. If you have extra heath insurance, you can make good money back. My surfing spouse had both eyes done. Way too much sun since a young age for the baby blues and still quite young.

Traumatic cataracts have a very very different cause to create the effect, or I should defect, but still the same operation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

... many modern conveniences are unnecessarily stripped away in the name of safety.

Like disposable lighters...

How many partially filled 'mini-bombs' do I see on the street every day?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If you have Japanese insurance, you will pay out of pocket above the insurance ¥42,000. If you have extra insurance, you will get that back plus much more.

Cataracts start at a very young age in my family. I know the cost, as I had one done a few years ago.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The point is that he would get not a penny if it was about Uniqlo!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hopefully they recalled this jacket

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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