How an Exploding Corona Beer Bottle Led to a $300,000 Award

How an Exploding Corona Beer Bottle Led to a $300,000 Award

The makers of Corona lost a federal case filed by a man who needed surgery after a beer bottle exploded in his hand.

A Miami jury awarded $301,000 to Joey Malvaes, who had an experience that was indeed “miles away from ordinary” after taking a Corona Extra bottle out of its case at a family Christmas party in 2013.

“As he puts the bottle of beer into the cooler, the bottle explodes and winds up causing serious injury to his right, dominant hand,” said Malvaes’ attorney, Nick Gerson of Gerson & Schwartz in Miami. “It cut the median nerve in his hand and some of the tendons in his hand.”

Malvaes, a landscaper by trade, filed a federal complaint in April 2014, alleging defective bottle design and broad negligence by Constellation Brands Inc., which bottles Corona in Mexico.

He saved the pieces of the bottle and gave them to Jim Godman, an expert who helped redesign the Coke bottle, Gerson said. The expert testified the bottom of the bottle was more square than most, which made the glass less able to withstand impact.

The Malvaes legal team also argued Constellation Brands showed negligence by not doing more to prevent or respond to several exploding-bottle incidents after the Corona bottle was redesigned in 2012, Gerson said.

“They didn’t have any records of impact testing,” he said. “They didn’t have any records from the glass plant facility. They didn’t have any testing as to the design.”

Constellation Brands’ lawyers argued the incidents were extremely rare, something like one in every 5 million bottles, Gerson said.

The jury did not find a design defect with the bottle, but it did find Constellation Brands was negligent and liable for Malvaes’ medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering.

Malvaes did not contribute to the damages with any negligence, the jury found.

“Our client was using the product as it was intended to be used, putting the beer in the cooler just like they show in the commercials,” Gerson said.

He tried the case with his father, Phil Gerson, and Ed Schwartz in a one-week trial before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres.

Constellation Brands was represented by Ana Alexander and Constantine “Dean” Nickas of Wicker Smith O’Hara McCoy & Ford in Coral Gables. They did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Nick Gerson said he hopes the case encourages others like Malvaes to pursue recovery.
“Consumers shouldn’t be intimidated by big corporations and should investigate claims that they may have … just to help the overall public,” he said. “If they find the right attorney, something can be done to help them and possibly others.”

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Republished by the Law Office of Scott A. Ferris, P.A.