A New Jersey appellate court has partially reinstated a lawsuit against an Indian restaurant that mistakenly served meat samosas to a group of Hindu vegetarians, who are now seeking compensation for emotional distress and to recover the cost of travelling to India for a purification rite. Gupta v. Asha Enterprises, L.L.C., A-3059-09T2 (N.J. Superior Ct., decided July 18, 2011). According to the court opinion, plaintiffs notified Moghul Express & Catering Co. of their “strict vegetarian” status and were twice “assured of the vegetarian nature of the food,” which actually contained meat. The complaint alleges that this oversight caused the diners spiritual injury and involved them “in the sinful cycle of inflicting pain, injury and death on God’s [creations], and it affects the karma and the dharma, or purity of the soul.”

Although the New Jersey Superior Court initially dismissed the claims of negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, consumer fraud, products liability, and breach of express and implied warranties, a threeperson appeals panel reversed summary judgment on the breach of express warranty claim, concluding that plaintiffs had “presented prima facie evidence of a warranty by employees of Moghul Express that the samosas sold to them were vegetarian.” Citing a previous breach of contract case related to funeral services, the court also ruled that plaintiffs could seek damages for emotional injury and remanded the case for discovery to determine “what consequential damages were foreseen at the time of the sale of the samosas in the event of a breach.”