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.