Remember the time when a lady Muslim legislator slapped a caterer during a dinner break at the House because she was served a noodle dish containing pork? Well, something of that nature has spawned a lawsuit in New Jersey after Hindu vegetarians were served samosas containing meat.
Recently, in Gupta v. Asha Enterprises
, No. A-3059-09T2 (N.J. Ct. App. July 18, 2011), the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court affirmed in part and reversed in part a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of an Edison, New Jersey restaurant that allegedly served meat-filled samosas to sixteen Hindu vegetarians.
As part of an India Day celebration in 2009, the plaintiffs placed an order at the Indo-Pak restaurant for vegetarian samosas, informing the restaurant that the food was being purchased for a group of strict vegetarians. The restaurant filled the order and assured the plaintiffs that the food did not contain meat. After consuming some of the samosas, the plaintiffs returned the remaining samosas to the restaurant and were advised that the food was, in fact, filled with meat. As a result, the plaintiffs claimed spiritual damage and asserted a number of causes of action against the restaurant, including product liability and breach of express warranty.
The Court found prima facie evidence of an express warranty by the restaurant employees and reversed the grant of summary judgment as to that claim. However, the Court affirmed summary judgment on the product liability claim, holding that, while the plaintiffs were supplied the wrong product, the food was safe, edible, and fit for human consumption. Alas, religion and products liability remain divided.
As practitioners of the Swaminarayan
principles of Hinduism, the plaintiffs believe that by eating meat they “become involved in the sinful cycle of pain, injury and death on God’s creatures, and that it affects the karma and dharma, or purity of the soul.”