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Law School Case Brief

Cudahy Junior Chamber of Commerce v. Quirk - 41 Wis. 2d 698, 165 N.W.2d 116 (1969)


Participants in a wager may not use the court to settle their dispute because gambling debts cannot be established or collected in the courts.


In the spring election of 1966, the voters of the city of Cudahy were to decide by referendum whether the community water supply was to be fluoridated. A leading proponent of fluoridation was the Cudahy Junior Chamber of Commerce. A leading foe of fluoridating the water was James Quirk, working as or through The Greater Milwaukee Committee Against Fluoridation. In the midst of the spirited campaign, Quirk "challenged" the Jaycees, offering to give them $1,000 if a daily dose of four glasses [of fluoridated water] cannot cause 'dermatologic, gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. He added "If the Jaycees should find that we have misrepresented matters in this paper, we will then also pay the sum of $1,000." The Jaycees did some checking, so found to their satisfaction, demanded payment by Quirk of $1,000. When payment was refused, the Jaycees brought action, seeking that the the court find that Quirk did misrepresent matters in his brochure, that four glasses of fluoridated water cannot cause the mentioned disorders, and a court judgment for $1,000. Trial was had to a jury and the jury found misrepresentation. Judgment was granted on the verdict. Motions after verdict were denied. Defendant Quirk appealed.


Was it proper to find misrepresentation in the case at hand?




The Court held that it could not be used to settle a dispute arising from a wager. The essential nature of defendant's challenge was a bet. The parties could not use the court to determine who won the bet because gambling debts cannot be established or collected in the courts. The court reversed a judgment based on a jury verdict for the Jaycees.

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