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.
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