Who Hijacked Our Country

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Manslaughter Charges Against British Petroleum?

Or Transocean? Or Massey Energy? It’ll never happen of course. But Amy Goodman makes an excellent point.

U.S. law defines manslaughter as “the unlawful killing of a human being without malice…Whoever is guilty of involuntary manslaughter, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six years, or both.”

When one person kills another person through negligence, unintentionally — violating traffic laws, letting a vicious Rottweiler run loose — that person could be charged with manslaughter. (Or worse.) So why is it different when a large corporation saves millions of dollars by cutting corners and ignoring safety regulations?

Twenty-nine miners were killed by the explosion by the Upper Big Branch mine owned by Massey. Eleven workers were killed in the fire at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which is owned by Transocean. The drilling operation is handled by BP.

The news has been full of reports on the incredible negligence leading up to both of those tragedies.

Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, says:

“If I drive my car 90 mph in a 55-mph speed zone, and I accidentally kill someone, I am going to be charged with involuntary manslaughter, for behaving with reckless disregard for those around me. Prosecutors regularly bring these cases. If a corporation operates a workplace with reckless disregard for the safety of the workers, and those workers die as a result, those executives responsible should be prosecuted. That’s why we are calling on the prosecutor of Raleigh County, W.Va., to bring this charge against Massey Energy and its responsible executives.”

Works for me.

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Anonymous Carlos said...

Not only should these fucks be charged (and convicted) of manslaughter...

...They should also be forced to pay the salaries of all the fishermen and their employees on the Gulf Coast who lost or will lose their livelihood because of BP's negligence; and they should pay until the fishing grounds are back to normal - not BP's normal, but normal normal. So, yeah, pay for years. Fuck them.

May 23, 2010 at 2:27 AM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

If corporations want the same rights as a person, they then should have the same responsibilities as well. Any executive who signed off on skirting safety regulations should have to accept the punishment from the results of these actions. And I'm talking real jail time too, with all the pot smokers, rapists and other murderers, no fines that can be extracted from the consumer.

May 23, 2010 at 6:04 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Tom while I want to personalty shoot these bastards, I'd almost give them a damn medal if they can just stop the freaken spewing of oil.
I think their waiting for divine intervention which means were screwed.

May 23, 2010 at 7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I think BP is on probation from charges filed against them regarding the explosion at the Houston City Refinery. There is an investigation beginning and you can find it at: www.deepwaterinvestigation.com and info about other stuff WH doing at www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com. Obama mentioned "the Justice Dept" when he made original remarks.
Guess he's not Bush as some say since there is a Justice Dept investigation at Massey Coal too. Will be interesting to watch what can be done.
I don't see how BP skates free because they are on probation, but have to see I guess. They are going to pay a whopping fine or someone could go to jail.....

May 23, 2010 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger TomCat said...

One of the men I know from my volunteer work in the prison drove drunk, ran over a child, and killed her. He served eleven years and now works as an alcohol counselor. He is still haunted by guilt over what he did. He's a great guy, not at all like the arrogant asses running BP.

Since SCOTUS has given corporations all the rights of people, corporate officers should face all the criminal liabilities that people do, as Lew said.

May 23, 2010 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

It's definitely time corporate executives are held to a higher standard. In addition to their companies being fined these guys need to be prosecuted and sent off to do time.

May 23, 2010 at 1:03 PM  
Blogger Dave Dubya said...

You may be familiar with the legal status of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity for mentally ill offenders. BP, Bush/Cheney, Blackwater, et al are protected from their crimes by the unwritten rule Not Guilty by Reason of Wealth.

Until this priviledge of immunity for the rich and politically connected ends, we are stuck under a rogue regime of corporatocracy.

May 23, 2010 at 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


All the court cases that corporations have won over the last century to get the same rights as individual persons DOES NOT extend to responsibility when someone dies because of their direct actions. Short of a CEO coming down and shooting an employee with a gun, it's not going to happen.

It's fines and penalties only!

Imagine if it worked that way for anybody eh?


May 23, 2010 at 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

There is only a 75million cap in damages unless it is proven that this was wilful neglect. If that can be proven then BP may get hammered by lawsuits. I would like nothing else than for them to be taken for EVERY single dime but sadly that will not happen. The corporate bootlickers and ass kissers we have in office have already backed down from upping the cap.

May 23, 2010 at 2:49 PM  
Anonymous kaye said...

It will be interesting to see what our elected servants and Obama think about criminal charges. After all, money talks.

May 23, 2010 at 4:26 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

Here is an article from Propublica, non partisan journalism place, about possibility of debarment for BP. Apparently they are under that from the Houston refinery accident and Prudhoe bay, as one of the other posters mentioned. Like I said before, I would love to see this happening as far as them being held to account for the death and destruction. It might make the Massey's and any other businesses like it, take a second look at the safety of their employees. I will not be holding my breath though, given all the money that flows through our congress from companies like this one.


May 23, 2010 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Holte Ender said...

The laws you speak of i.e. manslaughter involuntary or otherwise are only meant for Joe Q. Public. I would love to see an Attorney General go after these bastards, not going to happen.

May 23, 2010 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Carlos: What you said.

Lew: Damn right. If corporations are people, then that works both ways.

Tim: The cleanup progress looks pretty hopeless; I'd settle for shooting them.

Anonymous: I hope BP doesn't skate free. Unfortunately, being on probation means something different for a large corporation than it does for a person.

TomCat: Agreed. If corporations are people, they can be jailed just like people when they break the law.

J: Yup, both of those things. Huge fine for the companies; jail time for their executives.

Dave: "Not Guilty By Reason of Wealth" -- sad but true.

Erik: Yup, it would be nice if it worked that way for people too. Especially since these fines are about one billionth of one percent of their income. It would be like one of us getting fined 25 cents for a DUI conviction.

Jess: I'm afraid this will be just like the Exxon-Valdez spill -- a huge fine that keeps getting whittled down further and further.

Kaye: Yup, it'll be interesting. Money talks too loudly.

Jess: Interesting link. Thanks. It's a ray of hope, but I can still picture BP sleazing out of this just like Exxon did.

Holte: Too true. Manslaughter only applies to lowly peons. For VIPs it's a slap on the wrist.

May 23, 2010 at 7:46 PM  
Anonymous Jolly Roger said...

In the corporatist state, corporations are actually "super special people" and thus exempt from any kind of punishment the riff-raff could expect.

I wish we had the damn librul-sociocommie President the mouth breathers are all atwitter about.

May 23, 2010 at 8:03 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Lew is right. The problem, once prosecutors get into it, is establishing who ordered or authorized what.

Maybe a better way is to mandate corporations found to have violated safety regulations, or to have engaged in practices that someone with experience in their industry would know to be faulty, with one or more deaths or life-threatening injuries resulting, should have to pay out, say, $1 million or 10 percent of the corporation's net worth, whichever is greater, to each family of a deceased.

No fighting it in court for years. If an investigation finds the company was reckless, the company pays. That would get CEOs and executives where they feel it — on the bottom line. So, it might serve as a deterrent.

May 23, 2010 at 11:18 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

JR: "I wish we had the damn librul-sociocommie President the mouth breathers are all atwitter about." My sentiments exactly.

SW: I like your solution. All the regulations in the world aren't worth jack shit if they're ignored or not enforced. An ironclad million-dollar fine for each death or disabling injury would get the CEOs' attention in a hurry.

Joaquin (Comment not published): Run along and play outside now while the grownups talk.

May 24, 2010 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger T. Paine said...

If there is indeed wilfull negligence involved, I think those responsible for the decisions should indeed be prosecuted for manslaughter. I also agree that it won't happen.

I also like the concept of Anderson's idea. It also will not come to fruition though.

May 24, 2010 at 1:09 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

For the record, I did a post recently in which I called for repeat corporate offenders to be given the equivalent of a death sentence. BP America ought to be dissolved, its assets sold off to pay reparations, and its top decision makers should be barred from holding similar posts in energy or related companies ever again.

May 24, 2010 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger Distributorcap said...

all of them should be charged - including halliburton

no jail - just being forced to clean the birds, clean the wetlands and scrub the beaches with a toothbrush

and yes, since scotus made them people they should be forced to suffer like people

May 24, 2010 at 6:44 PM  

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