Seemed like a bright idea at the time | Marcel Strigberger

By Marcel Strigberger

Law360 Canada (August 4, 2023, 2:25 PM EDT) --
Marcel Strigberger
Definitely do not try this one at home. A gentleman in China, a Mr. Chen, showed up at the ER of a local hospital in Zhejiang, China, with the screw base of a lightbulb sticking out of this mouth. I suppose y’all want to hear more?

He apparently watched some guy online stuffing a lightbulb into his mouth and challenging viewers to try it.

Chen accepted the challenge and gave it a go but unfortunately he could not remove it.  Firefighters attended but they were unsuccessful and had to stop their effort, putting away their axes. They feared the glass might break. (I guess they only break the glass in case of fire).

They then drove the man to the hospital. Even the team of doctors had problems and in the end they had to use a special device to dislocate his jaw. Ouch!

I see a legal action here, big time.

Firstly, there is the lightbulb manufacturer. It clearly owed a duty of care to its consumers which it breached. Where was the warning on the package? I doubt there was a caveat reading, “Caution. This product is designed to light up a room. Do not put it into your mouth.”

Then there are the firefighters. Don’t they learn anything in training school? If they can remove a cat from a tree they should be able to readily remove a lightbulb from a guy’s mouth. They clearly failed to exhibit the skills of a competent firefighter.

Actually, I wonder why firefighter attended in the first place. Presumably given that he could not move his lips, Mr. Chen did not make the 911 call himself, unless he was a ventriloquist. The 911 operator likely asked whether to dispatch police, ambulance or firefighters. Given the situation, they should have sent an electrician. I say 911 is also a proper defendant.

Then of course there are the doctors and the hospital. True, they succeeded in removing the lightbulb, but did they have to dislocate his jaw? Ouch! I am certain there were alternatives, such as medications to expand his face. No doubt any first-year medical student will confirm that the basic medical textbooks all have a chapter reading something like, “Removing the appendix, the gall bladder and the lightbulb.” My word!

If I was the doctors’ malpractice insurers, I’d beat a quick path to try to settle this case.

Which gets me to damages. I did a quick CanLII search, keying in “damages-lightbulb stuck in the mouth.” I will say there is a dearth of reported decisions on this issue. The closest answer I got was, “see also ‘stupid.’”

I do wonder why people would go online to watch some fool stuff a lightbulb into his mouth. I know it takes skill but in my view he would hardly be a candidate for Canada’s Got Talent.

I guess nobody can accuse the guy of having a big mouth.

Incidentally, Mr. Chen was asked by the doctors what the lightbulb felt like. He replied, “Tastes like chicken.”

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. His just launched book Boomers, Zoomers, and Other Oomers: A Boomer-biased Irreverent Perspective on Aging is now available on Amazon, (e-book) and paper version. Visit Follow him @MarcelsHumour.

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