Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Legal Question

I am not a lawyer.   So if there are any legal beagles reading this, perhaps you can answer this question.

Back in December, 2008, Massey Energy, which was responsible for the recent mine disaster in West Virginia, pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the deaths of two miners two years prior.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are the same as people, shouldn’t Massey get the same penalty as a person who commits the same crime?  Of course, you can’t incarcerate a corporation, nor can you give it a lethal injection.  So what penalty would be appropriate to punish the “personhood” of Massey Energy?   Should the CEO get jail time?  Should the Board of Directors?   Or, is a corporation not really the same as a person?

Massey was fined $4.2 million for the 2008 crime.  Their income was almost $3 billion in 2008.  This would be the same as a $98 fine for a person who was found guilty of causing two deaths and whose income was $70,000 per year.  Hardly seems just.

Will Massey ever be punished as severely as a flesh-and-blood person?   File this under “When pigs can fly.”


  1. Look, a comment!

    Massey Energy had REVENUES of nearly $3 billion in 2008. Their net INCOME was $47 million.

    Is it too much to expect you to understand the difference?

  2. Actually, the analogy is correct. Revenues of a corporate-person correspond to annual salary of a flesh-and-blood-person. Income of a corporate-person is the amount after all expenses are paid, so would correspond to the amount a flesh-and-blood-person puts away in savings after all expenses.