Arbuckle v. Blackburn

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

191 U.S. 405

Arbuckle  v.  Blackburn

 Argued: November 10, 1903. --- Decided: December 7, 1903

This was a bill filed by Arbuckle Brothers against Joseph E. Blackburn, as dairy and food commissioner of the state of Ohio, to restrain him from certain action on his part as such officer, including prosecutions for violation of pure food laws of the state.

After a jurisdictional clause setting forth diversity of citizenship, the bill averred that by an act of the general assembly of the state of Ohio, passed in the year 1884, entitled 'An Act to Provide Against the Adulteration of Food and Drugs,' as amended by an act passed in the year 1890, entitled 'An Act to Amend Section 3 of an Act Entitled 'An Act to Provide Against the Adulteration of Food and Drugs,' Passed March 20, 1884,' which act was still in full force and virtue, it was provided that no person should, within the state of Ohio, manufacture for sale, offer for sale, or sell, any article of food which was adulterated within the meaning of said act, and that the term 'food' used therein should include all articles used for food or drink by man, whether simple, mixed, or compound. That it was further provided that food should be deemed adulterated '(1) If any substance or substances had been mixed with it, so as to lower or depreciate, or injuriously affect its quality, strength, or purity; (2) If any inferior or cheaper substance or substances have been substituted wholly or in part for it; (3) If any valuable or necessary constituent or ingredient has been wholly or in part abstracted from it; (4) If it is an imitation of, or is sold under the name of, another article; (5) If it consists wholly, or in part, of a diseased, decomposed, putrid, infected, tainted, or rotten animal or vegetable substance or article, whether manufactured or not; or, in the case of milk, if it is the product of a diseased animal; (6) If it is colored, coated, polished, or powdered, whereby damage or inferiority is concealed, or if by any means it is made to appear better or of greater value than it really is; (7) If it contains any added substance or ingredient which is poisonous or injurious to health; provided, that the provisions of this act shall not apply to mixtures or compounds recognized as ordinary articles or ingredients of articles of food, if each and every package sold or offered for sale be distinctly labeled as mixtures or compounds, with the name and per cent of each ingredient therein, and are not injurious to health.'

The bill alleged that for more than thirty years complainants and their predecessors had been engaged, and still were, in the manufacture and sale throughout the United States, including the state of Ohio, of a certain compound or mixture known as Ariosa, composed of roasted coffee, compounded and mixed with eggs and sugar, whereby the separate beans were coated, and to a large extent hermetically sealed after roasting with a compound of sugar and eggs, the original strength and aroma of the coffee being thus preserved, and deterioration prevented; that the coffee, eggs, and sugar were each 'a common, healthy, and unobjectionable article of food;' that Ariosa had acquired great reputation, and the good will of the business of its manufacture and sale had become very valuable; that it was sold in Ohio in packages, each of which, in compliance with the laws of Ohio in respect to the adulteration of food, was distinctly labeled with a printed statement of the precise composition and the proportion of each of the ingredients of the article.

And it was charged that, notwithstanding these facts, defendant, as dairy and food commissioner of Ohio, had notified complainants that he considered Ariosa, as put up by them, an adulteration; that he had issued a circular letter to dealers and vendors, wrongfully asserting that complainants, in the manufacture and sale thereof, refused to abide by the laws of Ohio in that behalf; and that he proposed to institute prosecutions to prevent and punish its sale or offer for sale in Ohio.

By the 16th paragraph of the bill it was averred that 'said statute, construed as respondent claims it should be, is in conflict with the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and void, in that it would deprive complainants of their aforesaid with the 14th Amendment to the Constitution protection of the law.'

And by the 17th paragraph it was averred that Ariosa was shipped to and sold in Ohio in original packages, 'and said statute, if construed as the respondent herein claims it should be, is a regulation by the said state of Ohio of interstate commerce, and is repugnant to, and in violation of, the 3d clause of § 8 of article 1 of the Constitution of the United States, and void.'

That if 'respondent be permitted to commit the threatened wrongs, the same will, as complainants are informed and believe, damage complainants to the extent of more than $100,000,-an amount largely in excess of respondent's ability to respond in judgment.'

The prayer was that the commissioner be restrained from charging that Ariosa was an article of food adulterated within the meaning of the statute, and that the use of the process of coating and glazing the coffee with the preparation of sugar and eggs, and the importation and sale constituted violations of the statute; from threatening dealers with prosecution; and from instituting or commencing prosecutions.

The case came on to be heard on complainants' application for a preliminary injunction, and was submitted on pleadings and evidence, whereupon the circuit court entered a decree denying the injunction, and dismissing the bill, which decree was affirmed by the circuit court of appeals, 51 C. C. A. 122, 113 Fed. 616, and the case then brought here by appeal.

Messrs. John Dewitt Warner and Clarence Brown for appellants.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 408-411 intentionally omitted]

Messrs. Edmond B. Dillon and Roscoe J. Mauck for appellee.

Statement by Mr. Chief Justice Fuller:

Mr. Chief Justice Fuller delivered the opinion of the court:


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).