The request was made during a hearing at a Ho Chi Minh City court Tuesday.
Nguyen Phuong Du, 46, a city resident, has sued the Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp, or Sabeco, over suffering caused by strange-smelling liquid he found in partially-filled sealed beer bottles.
Du’s case is that in a 24-bottle case of Sabeco’s Saigon Beer that he bought in September 2018, two were partially filled, one with half and another with quarter the usual quantity of beer. Furthermore, the liquid inside smelled strange.
Both bottles were sealed and carried an expiry date in 2019.
Du suspected the liquid inside the two bottles could be leftover beer or water used to clean the bottles that were sealed and sent to the market through some fault in the production process.
He reported the situation to Sabeco and the company only sent a representative to record and verify the complaint several weeks later. He never heard from Sabeco after.
Du sued Sabeco in 2019, demanding compensation of nearly VND40 million ($1.733) – the value of the beer bottles and VND39.8 million for the “mental suffering” he had to undergo.
He also demanded that Sabeo publicly apologize to him in four print newspapers in the city for three issues in a row.
Later, he added a supplement to the lawsuit, demanding compensation of another $1 million. He said that if he won the case, he would donate the money to the HCMC Consumer Protection Association.
However, at the court on Tuesday, Du said he was withdrawing the extra compensation demand and sticking to his original one of VND40 million.
For its part, Sabeco asked the court to transfer the case to investigators. The company’s lawyer, Hoang Huu Nhan, said it was necessary to make clear why Du demanded such “abnormal” compensation.
Sabeco had sent a representative to meet Du at a coffee shop as required by him to check the allegedly faulty beer bottles, but there was nothing to guarantee that they were truly the company’s products, the lawyer argued.
Nhan also asked that the case be suspended, saying Du did not have the authority to file such a lawsuit.
He said the beer bottles that Du used to claimed Sabeco’s faults do not have “evident value” and were not collected legally. All claims that have been made so far are one-sided, he added.
The defendant’s lawyer also noted that several tricks were available on the internet, showing people how to withdraw beer from a bottle without opening it, and those with dubious motivation could make use of those.
Furthermore, the fact that Du had accidentally bought some faulty beer bottles and demanded compensation of as much as $1 million indicated it was “no longer a consumption purpose of a normal customer,” Nhan argued.
Du’s lawyer Tran Dinh Dung rejected the arguments, saying Du was completely qualified to sue Sabeco.
A receipt can simply prove that Du was the one who bought the beer case with the faulty bottles and as a consumer, he has every right to sue the producer, Dung said.
Existing laws do not require that consumers to provide evidence to prove the faults of the producer and so far, there is no law that says the consumer has to specify why they bought some particular product, Dung said.
The panel of judges decided to put the trial on hold to collect more evidence, including Sabeco’s bottling process, and come to a conclusion later.