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Whenever all the facts bearing upon the question of public policy in any given case are undisputed, whether or not the acts or contracts are contrary to public policy, is a question of law. The question of the validity of the contract does not depend upon the circumstance whether it can be shown that the public has, in fact, suffered any detriment, but whether the contract is, in its nature, such as might have been injurious to the public. The law looks to the general tendency of such contracts.
Plaintiff promoters agreed to supply prizes and advertising for a baby show and to manage the show. The defendant agreed to furnish a room in which to hold the show and to pay the plaintiffs $ 600. However, for some time prior to, and at time of the proposed baby show, a disease popularly known as infantile paralysis was epidemic in the city of Hartford, and throughout the State of Connecticut, which disease attacked children, and particularly babies and young children, in large number. The defendant cancelled the contract. Plaintiff brought the present breach of contract action against the defendant. In its answer, the defendant argued that the holding of the baby show was highly dangerous to the health of the children of the community, and was therefore, contrary to public policy. To this answer, the plaintiffs demurred. The court overruled the demurrer, and the plaintiffs appealed.
Did the trial court err in overruling the demurrer of the plaintiffs in their breach of contract action against the defendant?
On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court's decision in favor of the defendant. A question involving public policy was a question of law. Therefore, the allegation in the answer, that the performance of the contract was contrary to public policy, had to be treated as a statement of a legal conclusion and not as a fact that was admitted by the demurrer. The court would not require the performance, or award damages for the breach, of a contract in which the public had so great an interest as the preservation of health. Holding the baby show would have been dangerous to health, and the show, itself, was intended to promote the health of babies.