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Weaver v. Palmer Bros. Co

    Citation. 270 U.S. 402, 46 S. Ct. 320, 70 L. Ed. 654, 1926 U.S.

    Brief Fact Summary. A consumer protection act was passed that prohibited the use of shoddy as a filler for comforters. The Appellee, Palmer Bros. Co. (Appellee), is a manufacturer of comforters that use this material as filler and allege that the act is unconstitutional.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. A restriction on the manufacturing of items is an interference with the contractual bargain between buyer and seller that can only be upset in the interests of state policing power.

    Facts. Appellee manufactures nearly 3 million comforters a year of which 750,000 are filled with shoddy.
    Shoddy is comprised of clippings and leftover material from cutting tables. Sometimes the shoddy will be made of secondhand garments and soiled rags.
    The government was concerned that these soiled items posed a threat to the health of the public who purchased comforters with this type of stuffing.
    Scientific studies showed that any bacteria were eliminated in the sterilization process performed at the end of manufacturing.

    Issue. Does the provision forbidding the use of shoddy in comforters violate the United States Constitution (Constitution)?

    Held. Yes. All evidence shows that the any harm to the health of the public is eliminated during sterilization. So, the restraint is unreasonable and arbitrary.

    Dissent. If the legislature saw the spread of disease as a great danger and the use of shoddy was a prevalent practice in the manufacture of comforters, then it was justified in prohibiting the use of shoddy.

    Discussion. The provision is ruled unconstitutional because the state’s concern and intent for instituting the law was eliminated as a concern by the results of scientific studies.


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