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Commonwealth v. Feinberg

Superior Court of Pennsylvania
234 A.2d 913 (1967)


Max Feinberg (defendant) sold home-use Sterno in his store, which was located in a derelict neighborhood. Although Sterno was manufactured for heating purposes, Feinberg knew that his mostly poor customers tended to use Sterno in making intoxicating drinks. Home-use Sterno contained a weak solution of methyl alcohol. To save money, Feinberg stopped selling home-use Sterno and started selling cheaper institutional-use Sterno. Feinberg was unaware that institutional-use Sterno contained a much stronger methyl-alcohol solution. However, Feinberg knew that, unlike home-use Sterno, institutional-use Sterno came in cans marked with a skull-and-crossbones and labelled: "Danger. Poison; Not for home use. For commercial and industrial use only." Feinberg did not call his customers' attention to these warnings. Over a few weeks, Feinberg sold 400 cans of the product to his customers, five of whom died of methyl-alcohol poisoning. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (plaintiff) successfully prosecuted Feinberg for involuntary manslaughter. Feinberg appealed to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Montgomery, J.)

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