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Law School Case Brief

N. Am. Cold Storage Co. v. Chicago - 211 U.S. 306, 29 S. Ct. 101 (1908)

Rule:

Provision for a hearing before seizure and condemnation and destruction of food which is unwholesome and unfit for use, is not necessary. The right to so seize is based upon the right and duty of the State to protect and guard, as far as possible, the lives and health of its inhabitants, and that it is proper to provide that food which is unfit for human consumption should be summarily seized and destroyed to prevent the danger which would arise from eating it.

Facts:

Complainant food supplier, North American Cold Storage Co., was subject to an Illinois state statute that subjected it to seizure and destruction of its food without any notice or hearing. The food supplier filed suit against defendants, a city and its officials, claiming that the intention to seize and destroy its poultry without any judicial determination was in violation of U.S. Const. amend. IV. The circuit court dismissed the action after determining that the state court was the proper forum and it did not have jurisdiction since the state police power was not impaired by U.S. Const. amend. IV

Issue:

Was the intention to seize and destroy the food supplier’s poultry without any judicial determination in violation of U.S. Const. amend. IV?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

On appeal, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the decision on other grounds, holding that a hearing before seizure, condemnation, and destruction of food that was unwholesome and unfit for use was not necessary. The power of the legislature to enact laws relating to the public health was within legislative discretion. The Court deemed that jurisdiction was proper because there was a constitutional question.

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