The Case of the Killer Toothbrush

Every so often, I read a news story about a lawsuit that makes me think I’ve inadvertently stumbled onto the satirical publication The Onion.  This is one of those stories.

According to this report by CBC News out of British Columbia, a woman named Saliha Alnoor is suing the Colgate-Palmolive Company for injuries she sustained when her toothbrush allegedly broke in two places in her mouth, slicing her gums and causing her to lose consciousness.

Alnoor apparently hired an engineer, who has done extensive testing on the toothbrush and determined that it contains a design defect that caused the brush to break.  Despite this damning would-be testimony, however, Alnoor is now representing herself against the company, in what her family describes as a “David and Goliath” battle.

After initially complaining to Colgate, the company sent her a $20 coupon.  Later, when she became particularly serious about her claims, the company offered to settle her case for $500.  Can’t you just smell the fear?  It smells oddly like mint.

This is one case we’re going to have to watch.  I wonder what Wacky Warning Label might come out of this case.


  1. If a steel beam, holding up a roof, suddenly breaks (within normal use–no excessive snow weight or such), that would be a feasible tort. So, why not a toothbrush, which seems to have caused injury (that, according to your article, has not been contested)whose design did not hold up to reasonable use (and really, what kind of tooth brushing is there in the world that could break a typical toothbrush of good design?)?

    A good tort should address a hazard that afflicted one in order to save many others the same fate. It seems that, although a bit on the bizarre side, this is an example of such a tort.

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