Donated Cake Liability (Long, Sorry)

Business By vicki3336 Updated 22 Jul 2009 , 9:47pm by margaretb

vicki3336 Posted 20 Jul 2009 , 4:45pm
post #1 of 13

One of my son's friend's mom asked me to make a cake for her parent's wedding anniversary. Her father apparently loved the cake(s) I had baked for the local junior high's boys athletics banquet. I politely told her that I was not licensed and could not do so legally. She offered to give me a "tip" in lieu of payment. I again explained that it would not be legal and even if I was okay with doing something illegal (I'm not), I would liable in the event, however unlikely, that something could go wrong and someone could get sick, choke on a splinter, whatever. She understood but asked why I wasn't worried about the liability from the 400 people at the banquet who ate my donated cake. I really couldn't give her an answer. I have looked through the forums all morning and can't find any topics regarding this. What is our liability if we donate cakes? Does anyone know?

Sorry if this isn't the correct forum for this topic.

12 replies
costumeczar Posted 20 Jul 2009 , 7:57pm
post #2 of 13

Interesting question...I don't know the answer, but I'm giving you a bump so that someone might see and answer.

costumeczar Posted 20 Jul 2009 , 7:59pm
post #3 of 13

My guess is you'd be able to be sued in either situation, if something did go wrong. However, your biggest risk in doing the anniversary cake would be that your name would get out as "that woman who does free cakes", and you'd never get rid of the string of cake-beggars at your door!

kandu001 Posted 20 Jul 2009 , 11:04pm
post #4 of 13

I think that when you donate to an organization, like a school, that they may end up with the responsibility if something were to go wrong. Maybe because they're choosing to serve it.

vicki3336 Posted 20 Jul 2009 , 11:17pm
post #5 of 13

Thanks for the responses....I don't want to risk getting sued without proper protection nor do I want to put anyone else (like the school) at risk either. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner, but perhaps I can get a definitive answer from my local health department. I hope I am overthinking this.

BlakesCakes Posted 21 Jul 2009 , 4:46am
post #6 of 13

I guess we're always at the mercy of the liability lawyers, in some way. People have been sued because a customer didn't like the cake--no other problem, just didn't like the way it looked, even though is was exactly what was ordered in every possible way. The case was thrown out, but the baker still had to defend herself........

I donate all of my cakes to people in exchange for their donation to a charity. I assume that my umbrella policy (an additional $1M policy over and above my homeowners insurance--doesn't cost very much, given the coverage) would be what would be called into play should I be sued.

I'm as careful as I can be and hope that no nuts get hold of any of my cakes.... icon_rolleyes.gif


CakeForte Posted 21 Jul 2009 , 8:05am
post #7 of 13

Yes you could get sued for anything...but next time if anyone asks, you could say something like "The parents were asked to donate pot luck items, and no money was exchanged, not even a tip."

PinkZiab Posted 21 Jul 2009 , 12:44pm
post #8 of 13

We can all get sued at anytime for anything (whether or not the case sticks, is another question). Someone could get sick or injured when you have invited them for dinner at your home and they could sue... it's just the type of world we live in.

vicki3336 Posted 21 Jul 2009 , 1:50pm
post #9 of 13

I guess we all have to weigh the risk versus the benefit anytime we serve food to anyone or have guests in our homes. I'd like to bash lawyers right about now, but my daughter is a newly licensed one and I'm very proud of her (though she does wills and estate planning...not litigation). icon_wink.gif

I'm going to keep on donating to my boys' schools, be very careful, and hope for the best.

kandu001 Posted 21 Jul 2009 , 4:31pm
post #10 of 13

That's very true that you could just be having someone over for dinner and they sue you for something....however, I would hope that a friend I am close enough to that they come in my home doesn't sue me!!

Just be careful who you donate your cakes to. I don't sell my cakes, they are all donated, but they are always given to friends and family so I hope I'm safe there!

PinkZiab Posted 21 Jul 2009 , 5:31pm
post #11 of 13
Originally Posted by kandu001

That's very true that you could just be having someone over for dinner and they sue you for something....however, I would hope that a friend I am close enough to that they come in my home doesn't sue me!!

Just be careful who you donate your cakes to. I don't sell my cakes, they are all donated, but they are always given to friends and family so I hope I'm safe there!

I think we all hope that... unfortunately, as many will tell you, sometimes "friends" (and even family) can very much surprise you! Not saying you need to be paranoid of your family and friends, just speaking generally, in that, well, you just never know!

I'm not the type to be paranoid about that sort of thing myself, but I know people who have been shocked (and betrayed) by "friends" and family.

ziggytarheel Posted 21 Jul 2009 , 7:28pm
post #12 of 13

If you have homeowner's or renter's insurance, and you are not doing business illegally from your home, I would think that the liability portion of that policy would cover you. I think everyone realizes it covers slip and fall things in your home, but ordinarily, the liability extends beyond that. If you are a renter and leave a pot on the stove that causes a fire that burns the whole building down, you are going to be VERY glad you have renter's insurance and hope you chose enough coverage! Years ago, my shopping cart got away from me and ran into a classic car. Oops! That's not auto insurance, because I wasn't driving. It's homeowner's. Although, I would caution that you should never file small claims on your will come back to haunt you. icon_smile.gif

So, if I were to bake a pie and donate it to an event at a school, and someone were to choke on a cherry pit in it, I am pretty sure that if I were sued, my homeowner's policy would cover that, up to my limit of liability I chose (and pay for).

But if I were illegally doing business from home, I don't think there would be any coverage, and I would have more problems than just the cherry pit incident. icon_smile.gif

margaretb Posted 22 Jul 2009 , 9:47pm
post #13 of 13

Also, think about what they would be suing you for. If you aren't selling the cake and therefore are not violating laws about food production facilities, then they are pretty much going to be claiming you were negligent in some way. That is, you would have to have done something that CAUSED the outcome that a REASONALBLE person would have foreseen. So if you donate a cake, and someone for some freak reason swallows wrong and chokes to death on it -- well, a reasonable person would not foresee that. If you donate a cake that is, say, full of eggshells, and a person chokes on the eggshells in the cake -- chances are the ruling will be that a reasonable person would have forseen that the eggshells were a choking hazard. If you donate a walnut cake and label it WALNUT CAKE and someone with a walnut allergy eats it and dies, I'd say a reasonable person would have foreseen that people with walnut allergies would have avoided that cake. If you label it nut free but are careless about it touching nuts -- e.g. use the same spatula that you have just used on a nut product or whatever, then you would be negligent. Sometimes bad things happen and it's NO ONE's fault, which is why you sometimes hear about lawsuits that sound really stupid, but chances are that someone has been badly injured and they are reaching around for some deep pockets.

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