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Crack is Whack

baking soda.jpgIt’s not quite as good as the case of Tyler v. Carter (in which a man sued the government to prevent bloodsports and the re-institution of slavery), but Ward v. Arm and Hammer is still a pretty fantastic case. According to the complaint, compliments of Above the Law, George Allen Ward is suing Arm & Hammer on a failure to warn theory of liability. Ward is suing for $425 million because A & H failed to warn Ward that if he cooked up Arm and Hammer baking soda with cocaine he might ultimately be convicted of crack-cocaine charges and receive a 200-month sentence. Ward complains that Arm & Hammer has an obligation to post warning labels.

The troubling question is that the Federal Government have insured [sic], that a company like ARM & HAMMER, which manufactures backing soda which is the “primary ingredient” along with cocaine hydrochloride in manufacturing crack and producing crack, is not penalized under the paraphernalia laws

Ward further alleges “that for a long time now” Arm & Hammer has “committed a serious case of gross ‘CONSUMERISM’ by not providing an honest labeling, warning the Plaintiff and the public with a drug prevention.”

Honestly, if Ward succeeds, I’m filing my own lawsuit against the manufacturers of Charmin for making toilet paper tubes that work so very well as bongs, the manufacturers of spoons for providing the perfect cooking device for heroin, and the corporations behind razor blades, which allow for the neat creation of coke lines on mirrors.

| Comments (2)


How about going after the Federal Reserve, for producing all those useful dollar bills for snorting?

A few quick points on this-

1. This case has already been tossed out in federal court.

2. While crack may be wack, this claim might not be. If you stifle your laughter for a minute, think about the following (under a failure to warn concept):

a. Making crack is a forseeable misuse of baking soda (it is common knowledge that baking soda is used to make street crack). A&H should know this (how could they not).

b. There is case law that companies have been held liable for not warning for forseeable illegal misuse of their products (cf glue sniffing cases).

c. Therefore, there is some merit to the claim.

Unfortunately, there are some other issues. There's forseeability (despite the academic debate over the crack sentences, are increased prison sentences really a forseeable risk of baking soda), not to mention comparative negligence (I'm talkin' to you, crack cooker!) and, of course, the question of whether the warning would have made a difference, even with a heeding presumption.

Then there's the problem of taking a pro se crack dealing litigant seriously.... but... that's the thing with tort law... you can always dare to dream (where's Traynor to cost spread when you need him).