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Tokyo man loses lawsuit after slipping on tempura at supermarket

28 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

One of the great things about Japanese supermarkets is their incredible selection of pre-made foods, with the tempura being many shoppers’ personal favorite. But while tempura is the highlight of many grocery runs, it didn’t put a smile on the face of a 36-year-old man who visited a branch of chain supermarket Summit in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward. While there, he slipped on a piece of kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) tempura that had been dropped on the floor in front of a register, causing him to fall and sustain injuries to his right knee.

Not satisfied with Summit’s offer of roughly 60,000 yen in compensation, the man decided to sue the company, and last December a Tokyo District Court ruled in his favor, ordering Summit to pay him roughly 580,000 yen. However, this wasn’t the end of the deep-fried dispute, as Summit appealed the decision, and on Wednesday the Tokyo High Court overturned the District Court’s ruling, dismissing the man’s claim for further compensation.

While the judge in the initial trial had deemed that Summit had been in violation of safe business operation ordinances, High Court Judge Yutaka Hirata pointed to a number of factors in his ruling that Summit had not been negligent, starting with the confirmation that the tempura had been dropped not by a Summit employee, but by another shopper. Citing its small size of approximately 13 centimeters in length, Hirata said it would not have been difficult to avoid, and also that it had not been on the ground for an amount of time inordinately long enough to constitute legal negligence.

With personal injury lawsuits far less common in Japan than in many other countries, online reactions to the High Court’s decision have been largely positive, with comments including:

“Happy to see they overturned it.”

“This was the right, and obvious, decision.”

“I’m glad common sense prevailed.”

“Everybody, keep an eye out for fallen tempura.”

Oddly enough, the reversal of the tempura ruling comes just one week after a verdict in an even larger lawsuit regarding a lettuce-related supermarket injury. In this case, a 60-something Tokyo man filed the lawsuit against a Kanagawa Prefecture grocery store he’d been shopping at in 2015. While there, he slipped and fell in the produce section, which he blamed on the floor being wet from water dripping off lettuce that had been sprayed to keep it crisp.

Seeking compensation for lingering injuries and loss of income, in this case a Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, ordering the store to pay him 21 million yen in damages. Judge Yukio Shinada (not the same judge who presided over the first tempura-slip trial, by the way) ruled that it was predictable that the water would drip from the lettuce onto the floor, and so the store, which had created the wet conditions, should have dried or otherwise taken further precautions in the areas where customers would be walking.

The Kanagawa store has not commented as to whether or not it plans to appeal the decision, but in any case, it’s probably a good idea to watch your step at the supermarket.

Source: Jiji via Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko, Twitter, NHK News Web via Otakomu

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

28 Comments
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Good for Summit !! ..

In advance they had offered him a compensation but he wanted to take advantage and did not get away with it !! ..

This is not the "Get milionaire making up lawsuits", as it happen the US.

6 ( +15 / -9 )

60 000yen was more than enough compensation. What was he thinking to take the matter further

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Sounds like a bit of a tempura tantrum.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

Idiot. I would have just taken the 60,000 yen.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Kind of odd to fall forward and hurt a knee. Most people slip and fall backwards and hurt wrists , elbows or the back of the head. I wonder if he had to demonstrate how he fell in court.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

After paying his attorney's fees and with nothing to show for it, he's likely to be only affording ramen for awhile. I assume he turned down the 60,000 yen compensation because he already paid more than that to his lawyer as a retainer. Japanese lawyers don't work on a contingency fee basis.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tristis QuepeToday  08:07 am JST

wunnnnnderfulllllll (´ ▽`).。o♡

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Did he slip before or after the lawsuit?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Japanese courts give weak, and sometimes irrational reasoning in their decisions.

"starting with the confirmation that the tempura had been dropped not by a Summit employee, but by another shopper." This has some validity, but the more important factor is whether the employees of the store knew or should have know about the tempura on the floor, and if they ignored cleaning it up.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I wonder how the suit would have been resolved had it been High Court Judge Hirata Yutaka who had slipped on the kabocha and damaged his knee...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As hated as such lawsuits are, they push industry to make safer products and shopping environments.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Does the man still like to eat tempura?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This guy would have been a millionaire had this happened in the US. Slam dunk case.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Sounds like a bit of a tempura tantrum.

Fortunately, the judge was having none of it. He told the guy, "Well, I'll shoyu."

2 ( +2 / -0 )

In the US, would depend on the medical bills. Usually ⅓ to doctors, ⅓ to lawyers. Usual scam is to run up Chiropractic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As hated as such lawsuits are, they push industry to make safer products and shopping environments.

Yah, phew. I can't tell how threatened I've felt shopping at stores my whole life. Feels like a war zone out there.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Can't tell ya about the numerous times I've seen japanese oyaji looking for something to complain about and making a scene or acting like they got hit by something in order to make a scene or something to that effect in order to make a scene.

What a miserable and horrible existence if that is one's way to get attention.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sounds like a bit of a tempura tantrum.

This is great banter!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sounds to me like the 60000 yen would have been fine considering the level of injury. Guy gambled for more and lost. Thems the breaks.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The article does not go into detail but if the injuries to his knee were superficial, then the Tokyo District COurt's decision was fair.

If the injuries were severe, then he should have received $20-30,000, assuming no broken bones or torn ligaments.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

*Citing its small size of approximately 13 centimeters in length, Hirata said it would not have been difficult to avoid, and also that* it had not been on the ground for an amount of time inordinately long enough to constitute legal negligence.

Strong reasoning by the judge. Summit is owed a chance to remedy “dangerous” situations before being hit with negligence.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

When you shop, you should slip on something more comfortable...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

60 000yen was more than enough compensation. What was he thinking to take the matter further

The amount is an insult and probably less than the victims total medical bills. That paltry amount wouldn't even pay for an ER visit in the US much lost wages for time off work.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Strong reasoning by the judge. Summit is owed a chance to remedy “dangerous” situations before being hit with negligence.

Regardless the store has an obligation to pay the full cost of his medical bills and lost wages plus pain and suffering. Y60,000 doesn't begin to do this. It's an insulting amount akin to tipping a waiter 2 cents. The judge should be ashamed but is apparently shameless. I hope you never slip and hit your head or bust a knee on a hard floor of a store. The callous disregard for this victim by some posting here is repulsive.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

High Court Judge Yutaka Hirata pointed to a number of factors in his ruling that Summit had not been negligent, starting with the confirmation that the tempura had been dropped not by a Summit employee, but by another shopper.

This factor is relevant only because it shows the Summit employee was not negligent by knowingly causing a dangerous condition.

Citing its small size of approximately 13 centimeters in length, Hirata said it would not have been difficult to avoid,

This is irrelevant to the fact that it had been difficult to avoid. And is 13 cm really small? The size sounds like in fact it was large enough to cause injury if stepped on--especially since an injury did occur from it being stepped on. And the tempura was in the floor, in front of the register. Is it reasonable that the customer should have been inspecting the floor at that time? Bad judge.

and also that it had not been on the ground for an amount of time inordinately long enough to constitute legal negligence.

The fact that it was on the floor long enough after one customer dropped it until another customer stepped on it could be construed as being on the floor inordinately long enough to constitute negligence. Then again, it is unknown exactly what "inordinately" means. Was it dropped by one, two, or more customers in front of the plaintiff? Without knowing this fact, the judge should not have included it in his reasoning. Bad judge.

Most damning:

tempura that had been dropped on the floor in front of a register,

This point should have been explored to determine if the tempura, on the floor in front of the register, was visible to the Summit cashier. If yes, then there would definitely be a duty on the part of the store to have removed the tempura immediately.

In the US, the fact the tempura was 13cm long, was on the floor in front of the cash register (ostensibly in view of the cashier and any other employee who was or should have been in the vicinity), and was on the floor at least for time of one customer to drop it, and another customer to step on it, would have led to a decision in favor of the plaintiff.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Regardless the store has an obligation to pay the full cost of his medical bills and lost wages plus pain and suffering.

No, it isn’t obligated to do so if there was no negligence, which there wasn’t according to the judge’s reasoning.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It’s very strange how people here are assuming they have all the information available to the judge and knowledge of Japanese laws.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

P. SmithAug. 8  04:43 pm JST

It’s very strange how people here are assuming they have all the information available to the judge and knowledge of Japanese laws.

People are making comments about the judge in this case, and about Japanese laws?

P. SmithAug. 7  06:34 pm JST

Strong reasoning by the judge. Summit is owed a chance to remedy “dangerous” situations before being hit with negligence.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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