“A Civil Action” by Jonathan Harr
What is the difference between a criminal and a civil case? Criminal cases require that a verdict be made without a “shadow of doubt,” but in civil cases that is not the case. Professor Nesson in “A Civil Action” states that civil cases only need around 51 percent to determine liability. This book was a very interesting read because it takes us through the different parts of a civil trial and how the case even got started. It is especially important to consider from a management perspective when determining the social and ethical responsibilities of businesses. We begin by discussing torts, who is responsible and the degree in which plaintiffs should be compensated. In this book, the plaintiffs claimed that three different companies acted irresponsibly in containing their waste and ultimately caused leukemia, along with a host of other disease and disorders, which led to the deaths of several children. In this case, the companies were being charged with a malfeasance tort. They may not have meant to cause harm, but it happened anyways. We then moved into the long and drawn out process of discovery. This process takes months to get through with the lawyers examining and cross-examining witnesses and reading dispositions. The financial burden can be substantial for businesses, especially if they are small. According to Gina Keating’s article in the Phoenix Business Journal, “About 97 percent of civil cases are settled or dismissed without a trial.” Aside from the money that needs to go into preparing for defense or prosecution, companies must look to how they are being perceived by the general public. As a manager, or business owner, your customers are your life blood. If your customers believe that your company’s products are unsafe or polluting the earth, you may have more to lose by going to court if a tort has taken place. The real question from a company perspective is to think about the action and the legitimacy of the...
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