There is an interesting torts case out of New York where Cailey Fiesel, 24, has sued the Zara clothing store after she went to work in a new dress only to discover a dead rat sewn into the dress.
Fiesel bought two dresses from the Zara store in Greenwich, Connecticut, on July 5, but left them hanging in her closet for two weeks. When she wore one of the dresses to work, she noticed a “pungent odor,” but continued to work. She later felt what she thought was a string brushing against her leg: “To her utter shock and disbelief, as she ran her hand over the hem of the dress, she felt an unusual bulge and suddenly realized that it was not a string that was rubbing against her leg, but was instead a leg rubbing against her leg. The leg of a dead rodent, that is.”
She is alleging a “significant personal injuries and emotional distress,” including a rash and the later diagnosis of what turned out to be a rodent-borne disease, according to court documents.
What is particularly interesting is that Zara prides itself on bringing new products to market in a fraction of the time of other stores — launching about 12,000 new products every year. That could factor into a trial if the pace is viewed as contributing to the conditions that produced the rat-embedded dress.
If the rat was sewn into the dress, the negligence would seem obvious. It would seem unlikely that there were superseding intervening forces that would have put the rat into the dress after purchase. There is also the question of product liability. Most dresses hardly possess the inherent risks for a product liability action, but this is not most dresses. This is clearly a product that had harmful elements due to a manufacturing defect. (I am assuming that this was not a design defect for a meat-based style of dress).
The interesting element may be damages. Putting aside the rash and disease, the emotional trauma of walking around with a dead rat brushing your leg would stick with anyone in terms of negligent infliction of emotional distress.
What do you think the range of damages should be?