5 Personal Injury Cases in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

ELI5: Negligence

Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate factory captured hearts around the world. The 2005 film was also a success: many children and personal injury lawyers alike were captivated by Willy Wonka’s world of pure imagination, candy, and premises liability. Indeed, the Wonka’s factory in the 2005 film is filled with all sorts of goodies such as negligent entrustment, dangerous instrumentality, OSHA violations, attractive nuisances, and candy.


In the beginning of the film, Prince Pondicherry asks Willy Wonka to construct a palace built entirely out of chocolate. The problem is that the palace is located in the desert and, on a particularly hot day, the palace begins to melt, forcing everyone to evacuate. Foreseeability plays a big part in negligence-based lawsuits like premises liability. So, if the palace was located in the United States of America, Prince Pondicherry would be liable for the injuries anyone in the palace sustained. This is because Prince Pondicherry knew his palace would melt, as Wonka did warn him that it wouldn’t last forever. If you know parts of your house are unsafe, you have a duty of care toward your guests to prevent injuries.


Things inside the factory really start to go awry when Augustus Gloop begins eating out of Wonka’s chocolate river. When Augustus falls into the river, he is sucked up by a pipe. In this case, there are several things the Gloop family may be able to sue for. To begin with, the family can sue for premises liability as the incident occured on Wonka’s property and there were no rails or guards preventing Augustus from falling in the river. The family may also have a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress, if being sucked up into a pipe caused a psychological disturbance in Augustus Gloop. Augustus’s mother could also file a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress if she suffered psychological trauma from watching Augustus get stuck in the pipe. Finally, as Augustus and his mother are leaving the factory, Augustus is seen eating his right hand. If, as the film suggests, Augustus’s right hand was somehow turned to chocolate, this would be considered a catastrophic injury—especially if he, like 90% of the population, is right handed.


When Augustus Gloop begins to eat out of the chocolate river, Wonka warns him that the chocolate must be untouched by human hands. This is because the chocolate in the river is the same chocolate that goes into all of Willy Wonka’s chocolates. If Augustus Gloop contaminated that chocolate, and Wonka failed to recall the chocolate, Wonka would be liable if consumers became sick due to the contaminated chocolate.


If you think Wonka is off the hook since Violet Beauregard didn’t sustain any injuries, think again. At the end of the film, Violet is doing various forms of gymnastics outside the factory. She praises Wonka’s gum for making her more flexible to which her mother curtly replies, “Yes, but you’re blue.” If Violet became permanently violet after chewing Wonka’s new gum, she may be able to sue for scarring and disfigurement. And, young women typically receive higher compensation for scarring and disfigurement than men do.


You may be tempted to exonerate the chocolatier in the case of Veruca Salt. After all, there was a fence guarding her from the squirrels. However, Wonka can still be in hot water because the squirrels could be considered an attractive nuisance. Though fences do limit liability, the guard rails were not sufficient enough to keep Veruca away from the squirrels. Though some may argue that she was trespassing, because she’s a child and the squirrels were an attractive nuisance, Wonka has a greater duty of care toward Veruca. If she suffered physical or emotional injuries on her way down the garbage chute, Wonka could be found liable.


If you have been injured while touring a top secret chocolate factory, or any factory at all, Moxie Law Group is here for you. Our experienced attorneys know the ins and outs of premises liability and are dedicated to helping you fight for your rights.

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