Law is Phun, pt. 2

13 05 2008

Part deaux in our Law is Phun series, another “delightful” case name, courtesy of a footnote from Easter Seals:

United States v. 11 1/4 Dozen Packages of Article Labeled in Part Mrs. Moffat’s Shoo Fly Powders for Drunkenness, 40 F. Supp. 208, 209 (D.N.Y. 1941)

– Well, I think if you tried to guess what this case might be about, you would probably guess right. Back in 1930’s, Mrs. Moffat (probably really a guy) marketed this product made of Antimony & Potassium Tartrate, claiming that it “cured” drunkenness. Before you run out to the grocery store looking for Potassium Tartrate (whatever THAT is- a distant cousin to the Carbolic Smokeball, perhaps?), you should know that the court granted an order condemning the product as mislabled, because:

1) it did not cure drunkenness; and

2) it was dangerous to health.

If you want to know more about the dangers of promising a cure that you can’t deliver, read Carhill v. Carbolic Smokeball Co., 1 Q.B. 256 (1892), a case where a manufacturer promised £100 to anyone who used the “health promoting” smokeball and got the flu. Unfortunately it was in the middle of a flu epidemic. The ad was determined to be an offer (a departure from the usual, more on that later), which was accepted when you got the flu. Uh Oh.

Please comment or ask questions. It will make this site more phun!

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