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Criminal Law Keyed to Gershowitz
Commonwealth v. Feinberg
Citation:211 Pa.Super. 100, 234 A.2d 913, affirmed 433 Pa. 558, 253 A.2d 636 (1969).
The defendant owned a cigar store handling tobacco, candy, etc. He also sold Sterno in two types of containers, one for home use and one for institutional use. Such sales were made under circumstances from which it could be reasonably concluded that the defendant knew the purchasers were intending to use it for drinking purposes by diluting it with water or other beverages, and not for its intended use.
On December 21, 1963, the defendant bought ten additional cases of institutional Sterno containing seventy-two cans each, unaware that it contained fifty-four per cent methanol, although the lid of each container was marked “Institutional Sterno. Danger. Poison; Not for home use. For commercial and industrial use only”, and had a skull and crossbones imprinted thereon. The defendant ignored this warning and sold part of this supply in the same manner he had previously dispensed his other supply of the product. The containers of the regular Sterno and the institutional type previously sold contained no such warning and were merely marked “Caution. Flammable. For use only as a fuel.” The only difference in the containers previously sold was that the institutional type was so marked but had no wrap-around label as was affixed to the container intended for regular use. Both containers were the same size.
Between December 23 and December 30, 1963, thirty-one peopled died in this area as a result of methyl alcohol poisoning. After hearing of their deaths, defendant, on December 28, 1963 returned four cases and forty-two cans which remained unsold from the ten cases he had purchased on December 21, 1963. Defendant was the only purchaser in the area of this new institutional product.
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