A federal court in California has determined that a consumer case alleging that safeway was negligent for failing to notify customers of food recalls may proceed. Hensley-MacLean v. Safeway, Inc., No. 11-01230 (u.s. Dist. Ct., N.D. Cal., san Francisco Div., order entered April 7, 2014). According to the court, safeway failed to justify a post-sale exception to California’s negligence law, which imposes a general duty of care.
The plaintiffs claim that safeway should—and could easily—notify customers of food recalls after they have purchased the recalled products because safeway collects contact information from its loyalty card customers. safeway argued that it had no duty to warn customers after they have taken the prod- ucts out of the store. Rejecting the company’s argument, the court observed that safeway could clearly foresee that its customers would consume the products purchased at its stores. The court also identified a number of previous decisions holding that the manufacturer’s duty extends beyond the point of sale, as well as a decision implying that a seller’s duty may also extend beyond that point. Without any justification for establishing a post-sale, no-duty rule, the court denied safeway’s motion for summary judgment.