Author Topic: Civil rights for corporations?  (Read 917 times)

LC

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Re: Civil rights for corporations?
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2018, 02:53:17 PM »
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However, these environmental exposure cases are extremely complex as disease causation is incredibly difficult to prove because disease profile prevalence variations may be due to a very high number of potential causes, including intrinsic (personal) causes.

I completely agree. Does that mean it shouldn't be done? Or that therefore the victims are not owed any justice? Seems absurd.

I did some more digging, here is the issue:

The government has calculated that Citgo pulled in $1 billion over the decade it operated its refinery illegally. If U.S. District Court Judge John D. Rainey were to empanel a jury to consider such “pecuniary gain,” Citgo could theoretically pay up to $2 billion in penalties. Rainey has so far declined to establish a jury, ruling that it would prolong the sentencing process. (An irony that isn’t lost on some. “That’s too funny,” said Suzie Canales, an environmental justice activist in Corpus. “People have died waiting for the judge.”) Without a sentencing jury, the judge can levy a maximum fine of only $2 million—a paltry sum compared to the billion the company earned during its criminal activity.


And that is exactly what happened: a sentencing jury was not established, the excuse being it would "take too long", and therefore Citgo pays a 0.2% cost-of-doing-business expense. 0.2%!!!
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 03:04:56 PM by LC »
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Cigarbutt

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Re: Civil rights for corporations?
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2018, 05:34:56 PM »
"a sentencing jury was not established, the excuse being it would "take too long", and therefore Citgo pays a 0.2% cost-of-doing-business expense. 0.2%!!!"

Just read that Lance Armstrong has settled with the US government. He is not a corporation. The deal seems unfair but would need to evaluate the merits of the case before judging.

The case you mention is interesting and raises questions about fairness on many levels. (regulations, municipal and local enforcements, socio-economic issues and differential treatment of small versus large corporations).

Let's say your new house (I hope you enjoy yours) is near a beautiful golf course or in the neighborhood on an electricity transmission line and you get nominated by your community because of your civic engagement qualities and it is felt that there is an unusual incidence of cancers in the area. Results of investigations demonstrate that the "corporations" did not follow environmental guidelines (pesticides, distance from fields) and some studies remotely suggest the possibility that there may be a link between the violations and the cancers documented.

Then do you expect the fines for the violations to be proportional to the profitability of the corporations and do you expect that automatically someone will guess how much should be distributed to people who were diagnosed with cancers?

Remember also that the burden of proof is much higher for criminal cases vs civil cases.

As said before, there is data available and favorable verdicts can be reached. Need good people AND a strong case. Even if I don't know the underlying specifics of the causality dilemma for this pecific case, I understand that people in the community got together to fight "the toxic neighbors".

http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/mezza.html

With the reservations stated above, I have a feeling that the evidence for causality between the exposure and damage was very weak and that the likely outcome would have been more legal fees and the same financial end result for the community.

Big corporations have a lot of power (a strong argument can be made for corporate cronyism) but legal short cuts may not be the best way to right the situation.

In terms of moral hazard, as mentioned before on this thread, a facilitated piercing of the corporate veil in criminal cases may go a long way for environmental protection and other areas because people, even managers, usually don't like to go to prison. I'm told the environment is more toxic than in the Refinery Row districts, especially on your side of the border, apparently.

LC

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Re: Civil rights for corporations?
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2018, 08:13:11 PM »
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Then do you expect the fines for the violations to be proportional to the profitability of the corporations and do you expect that automatically someone will guess how much should be distributed to people who were diagnosed with cancers?
Fines absolutely should be proportional. Hell, if I'm Citgo, I'd do the exact same thing over and over! At this point, do they even have to stop? The fine may even be cheaper than proper treatment.

In terms of lawsuit claims, harmed individuals should show damages. Not very different from an asbestos claim.

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I have a feeling that the evidence for causality between the exposure and damage was very weak and that the likely outcome would have been more legal fees and the same financial end result for the community.

Big corporations have a lot of power (a strong argument can be made for corporate cronyism) but legal short cuts may not be the best way to right the situation.

I don't think I understand your point. As I understand it, the issue here is the judge did not even allowing these people to explore a causal link. The "legal shortcut" here is doing nobody any favors (except Citgo).
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 08:20:00 PM by LC »
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Cigarbutt

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Re: Civil rights for corporations?
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2018, 05:11:22 AM »
You are correct in saying that these are tough issues. Jumping to conclusions can be a risky proposition.

Your mention of asbestos exposure is interesting.
I've followed this topic closely, including because I have invested in insurance companies whose results were somewhat dependent on the "social" evolution of case law.

From a few days ago:
https://nypost.com/2018/04/16/critics-say-tort-reform-necessary-after-60m-asbestos-settlement/

Very sad case and, on the surface, it looks like an "award" was indicated by the facts of the case.
However, the entire area of asbestos exposure liability (inclusion criteria, level of settlements) suggests that tort reform may be necessary.

Reform is necessary when there is not enough and when there is too much.
We just have to push in the right direction.
Combining heads may help. :)
« Last Edit: April 20, 2018, 07:16:44 AM by Cigarbutt »