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Commonwealth v. Feinberg

253 A.2d 636 (1969)

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Commonwealth v. Feinberg

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

253 A.2d 636 (1969)

Facts

Max Feinberg (defendant) owned and operated a cigar store in the skid-row section of Philadelphia. One of the products Feinberg sold was Sterno, a product made for cooking and heating purposes and composed of approximately 3.75 percent methanol and 71 percent ethanol. Methanol was highly toxic if consumed internally. Sterno began manufacturing a new industrial Sterno that contained 54 percent methanol. The cans for the new industrial Sterno were identical to those for the old industrial Sterno, except that on the lids for the new industrial Sterno were imprinted a skull and crossbones and the following words: “Industrial Sterno. Danger. Poison. For use only as a Fuel. Not for consumer use. For industrial and consumer use. Not for home use.” The cartons in which the new industrial Sterno cans were packaged and shipped, however, did not indicate any difference between the new and old industrial Sterno. Feinberg purchased the only carton of new industrial Sterno available in the Philadelphia area and sold approximately 400 cans. After 31 people died in the skid-row area from methanol poisoning, many cases of which were traced to the new industrial Sterno, Feinberg was arrested and indicted on 31 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Feinberg was convicted on 17 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Feinberg appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Jones, J.)

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