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Hanford v. Connecticut Fair Association

Connecticut Supreme Court
103 A. 838 (1918)


Facts

Walter Hanford and the Babyland Amusement Company (Hanford) (plaintiffs) contracted with the Connecticut Fair Association (defendant) regarding the production of a baby show and competition to be held at a park in Hartford, Connecticut in September of 1916. They expected to attract many babies to the park and award prizes after inspecting and comparing the babies’ traits. Pursuant to the parties’ agreement, Hanford would supply advertising materials and 120 prizes for the show. The association agreed to provide a room for the show and pay Hanford $600. However, beginning in August of 1916, an epidemic of infantile paralysis swept through Connecticut and caused the death or permanent disability of many babies and children. In the middle of August, the association contacted Hanford and canceled the contract, claiming that holding the baby show as planned would be highly dangerous because of the serious health risks of bringing together a large group of young children. Hanford sued the association for breach of contract. In its answer to Hanford’s complaint, the association asserted that the public-health risks of holding the baby show meant that performing the contract would be contrary to public policy. Hanford objected to the association’s answer in a demurrer, arguing that the association made an absolute and unqualified promise to perform. The trial court overruled the demurrer, and Hanford appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Shumway, J.)

Dissent (Beach, J.)

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