Civil Action Law Assignment

Topics: Pollution, Soil contamination, Environmentalism Pages: 5 (1529 words) Published: January 13, 2011
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Corporate Social Responsibility issues in today’s modern day business environment are one of the most controversial topics affecting firm’s reputation when operating in any industries. This essay question will be looking at Environmental and CSR issues in the context of the film A Civil Action. Part A

Environmental law is the important part of government regulation and it deals with pollution or contamination problems. In our case contamination is found within the walls of the factory that was owned by W.R. Grace & Co. Company was using hazardous substances and it has legal duty of care for waste: they had to be disposed or recovered (Business Gateway, 2009). But company failed to do that and all waste was poured out into the water. Unfortunately those burdensome substances negatively affected health of large number of people including workers of the factory, their families and neighbors who lived in the Woburn, Massachusetts. “Ingestion” occurred as people were drinking this polluted water and they were using it for cooking. That region was characterized by large number of illnesses and sick people. Unfortunately contaminated water became the reason of death of children, who died from leukemia. According to general obligation law to environmental contamination caused by businesses, company must pay compensation if its manufacturing processes resulted in contamination and this pollution in its turn caused the personal injury or property damage. (Nelson, 2006) But in our case exposure of hazardous substances in the water resulted in deaths of children and there was no amount of money that can revive and return them to their parents. But someone had to take responsibility of it. The parents sued company as it was legally liable for pollution and plaintiffs tried to prove that defendants knew their operations would cause pollution. “Personal injury and property damage resulting from air, water and soil pollution are referred to as “toxic torts”. (Nelson, 2006) It seeks compensation to illness, injury, or death caused by “ingestion” of burdensome substances. There is an example of Love Canal case that is very similar to our one. “Love Canal is a community near Niagara Falls, New York, where beginning around 1970, families realized that they were suffering from unusually high rates of cancer and other illnesses as well as birth defects. Investigation revealed that the families' homes and even an elementary school for their children had been built on top of tons of chemical wastes that had been deposited in a ditch and covered over. In one of various legal responses to the disaster, the residents sued the Occidental Petroleum Corp. based on tort law and recovered millions of dollars in damages. “(Reference for business, 2010) such cases that are based on contamination at hazardous waste are as usual very long and very expensive. Plaintiffs were investigating this case for a long time and it was quite difficult to prove that leukemia was the result of exposure of identified water pollution. They spent of this case $3,5 million dollars and lawyers were in debt and they had no further resources to continue the case, for that reasons they agreed to take the compensation of $8 million out of which 28% their fees and out of the rest money each family got the compensation of $375,000. But money was not the reason of suing; “judicial remedies are inadequate as monetary damages are insufficient to compensate for the death of a family member” (Nelson, 2006) The parents were expecting company would take responsibility over its actions and would take legal duty of care for its waste. But one of the lawyers continued investigation of the case and according to the film it has been proved that the owner of the factory John Riley deliberately concealed evidence at the trial. And his tannery was turn down in 1990. W.R Grace was indicted by the Grand Jury for making false statements to the EPA (Environmental...

References: Business Gateway [online] Available at:
Reference for business [online] Available at:
Environmental Law and Business - duties
Nelson B.L., 2006. Law and ethics in global business. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon.
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