The widow of a scientist who died after suffering an allergic reaction to eating eggs has been awarded £415,000 in damages.
Kuldip Singh Bhamra, 49, attended a wedding banquet held at a Sikh temple in Forest Gate, London. Mr Bhamra knew of his allergy but would not have felt the need to inform the caterer since the Sikh religion forbids the consumption of eggs, meat and fish in a temple.
The caterer, Prem Dubb, served a dessert dish, ras malai, which contained low levels of egg. Mr Bhamra suffered an anaphylactic reaction, fell into a coma and died three days later in hospital.
When the case was heard in the County Court, the judge decided that the caterer had been negligent and awarded damages to Mr Bhamra’s widow. The caterer appealed against the decision.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and ordered the caterer to pay the damages. Although the caterer denied it, the Court found that he had resorted to an outside source for additional supplies of ras malai after the number of wedding guests exceeded expectations. The Court was of the opinion that the caterer, himself a Sikh, would have been aware that some recipes for the dessert do contain eggs.
Mr Bhamra’s widow was awarded £415,000 in damages plus interest of £36,000.
A caterer would not normally have a duty to provide a warning that certain foods contain eggs, even though it is known that some 0.1 per cent of the adult population do have an egg allergy. However, the unusual combination of circumstances in this case was sufficient to extend the scope of the caterer’s duty of care to preventing harm to the guests at the wedding as a result of eating food containing eggs.