Business Law Cases Essay, Research Paper
CHRYSLER-Case Jury Orders Big Payment
CITE: The Wall Street Journal, Friday, February 19, 1999. Page A 3.
FACTS: Chrysler Corp. was the first United States manufacturer to install air bags on the driver s side. These air bags were installed on entire line of domestic passenger cars in the late 1988, 1989 and 1990.
In July 1992, when Louise Crawley drove her 1989 Chrysler LeBaron and collided with another car, the air bag deployed. The deploying of the air bag burned her left hand. At the time, Ms. Crawley was pregnant. After the accident, she was hospitalized, released and referred to a doctor for her burn which healed within a few weeks. Fortunately, she did not have any other injure and her unborn child was not harmed by this accident.
Ms. Crawley led other Pennsylvania owners of certain Chrysler vehicles to file lawsuit to Chrysler Corp. Lawyers of plaintiffs claimed that the location of the air bag s two vents released hot gases. It caused the burning of hands.
The outcome of the case is those plaintiffs win. Chrysler Corp. has to pay an estimated $63.61 million to Pennsylvania owners of certain Chrysler vehicles because of the burning of the air bags when the safety devices deploy. The jury awarded compensatory damages of $730 which is for the cost of a replacement driver s side-bag unit. The jury also awarded the plaintiff $3.75 million in punitive damages to every registered Pennsylvania owner of a Chrysler car for those model years that had a driver side air bag.
According to Chrysler officials, this decision in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia Country represents is the biggest award in an air-bag case. It is also the first verdict in class-action suit which is involving air bags.
LAW: Damage means money. There are two types of damages:
1. Compensatory damages: the court awards certain amount of money to plaintiff to compensate for what he or she has suffered. The amount could be measured by medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffer of plaintiff.
2. Punitive damages: the punishment of defendant to avoid doing it again. It is also used to be a precedent to tell others not to do it.
Product liability refers to goods which caused an physical or economic harm of a corporation or a natural person.
Strict liability occurs in two business areas. One is ultra hazardous activity. Another one is a defective product.
Defective products: in order to prove the product is defective, a plaintiff must prove all of the following elements:
1. Potential defects:
d) Unsuitable use;
2. Defendant is selling this kind of things in market.
3. Product reached consumer unchanged.
4. Causes injury.
COMMENT: According to the article, Chrysler-Case Jury Orders Big Payment, about 14 Pennsylvania drivers left hands got burned because of the air bags of Chrysler vehicles. Compensatory damage is decided to compensate the harms of plaintiff. Thus, the decision of the jury is correct. These drivers would get the damage to compensate their injuries. In the case of Ms. Crawley, even her unborn child is safe and did not harm in the incident, she still can get the compensatory damage because her left hand was burned.
The jury should award the punitive damages as well because the corporation should get the punishment in this case. Chrysler Corporation would have some experiment for the air bags before they sold those cars which were installed the air bags on the driver side. Especially, Chrysler Corporations is the first manufacturer to install air bags into the driver side was not usual. They would be extremely careful of this new trying and make sure that it would not harm the drivers who were their customers. Therefore, the corporation was extreme and outrageous in this case. They also responsible for the harm of Pennsylvania Chrysler cars owners and received the penalty which was $3.75 million for punitive damages.
Overall the decision of the jury is just and fair. The outcome of this case also warns manufacturers and producers to aware of the safety of their goods. This case told us that produce defective goods would cost a huge amount of loses. Just like Chrysler Corporation, when they produced cars with driver s side air bag, it helps the promotion and consumption. These cars increase the profit of Chrysler Corporation. After years, they have to pay much more than what they earned because of the defective cars. This case would remind other corporations that they have liabilities on their products. Thus, they would be more careful when they are producing new goods.
FAMILY PLANNING GROUP FACES BIAS COMPLAINT
CITE: The Boston Globe, Thursday, April 15, 1999. Page B1 and B7.
FACTS: Michael Barry who is a Milton man filed a complaint against the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts on April 6. He was a director of education and training for the league in the company. He had worked for Planned Parenthood League for about a year. He was fired on October 23, 1998 without a warning. He claimed that he was fired because he is a man and his treatment for hepatitis C.
Barry suffered discrimination because of his disable nature of his treatment for the virus. It made him exhausted and depressed. Before he got fired, he had completed the hepatitis treatment; his boss and colleagues were telling Barry that his quality of work was improving. At the time, the supervisor expressed that he was satisfied with Barry s job. His boss also gave him a strong verbal support at a staff meeting.
The human resources director of Planned Parenthood, Louise Gant, suggested he had problems in communicating with other staffs because he is a man and other staffs are all women. Thus, Barry claimed it as gender discrimination.
Barry expressed that he raised this complaint to public because he believes the discrimination against hepatitis C would become more serious in working places soon. His action would make the public concern more about this kind of discrimination.
LAW: Employment discrimination is to prohibit employer discriminate employee. It is used to protect employees as well. This kind of protection is applied in every process of employment. It also applied to salaries, placement, benefit and working conditions.
Under Title VII, the definition of discrimination is to fire, not hiring, refuse to promote, or restrict the working opportunities of an employee. Discrimination is based on race, sexual preference, color, negligence, or gender.
Three possibility to defense discrimination charge:
1. Merit: If the defendant can show there is a reason which is related to qualification to favor a person, it is not discrimination. For example, if one person has a higher educational level and has a better fit for the job, the employer has the right to hire the better one. In this case, the boss is not discriminating either one of them. The boss is just hiring a person based on the qualification.
2. Seniority: A defendant is not liable if he can show it is a legitimate seniority system.
3. Bona Fide Occupational Qualification: If there are some necessary requirements for the position, an employer is allowed to have a discriminatory job with requirements which is bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ).
Wrongful discharge: It is used to protect employees. Wrongful discharge does not allow employers fire an employee under a bad reason. Public policy, contract law and tort law are categories for claiming wrongful discharge.
COMMENT: No matter what the outcome of the complaint would be, the action of Barry warned companies not to discriminate employees. It also made employees to be careful of firing an employee because firing an employee with discrimination may have a huge cost if the employee filed a lawsuit against the company.
In my point of view, Planned Parenthood League is discriminating Barry. The discrimination in this case is based on gender. At the time Barry got fired, he did not suffer by the treatment of the hepatitis C anymore. This illustrates that Barry got fired not because of his sickness or his worse quality of job. The main reason that he got fired is he is the only man in the company. Whenever he had problems communicating with other staffs, the director of the human resource claimed that this is because he is a man. The director blamed all the responsibility and reason of the problem on the gender.
BETH ISRAEL DEACONESS SETTLES FEDERAL LAWSUIT XWill pay $920,000 over claims of misusing grant funds
CITE: The Boston Globe, Thursday, April 15, 1999. Page E8.
FACTS: Boston has received highest amount of research grants from the National Institutes of Health. Many other non-profit organizations also awarded over $758 million for research funding in Boston area. The amount that Beth Israel has received is in the third high among these hospitals with $55 million.
Dr. Jan Gossen had applied for a $368,000 grant to study genetic mutation in mice, but he is required to spend half of his time on the project. Under the time of the grant, he went back to Holland because of his wife s sickness. After he came back from Holland to Boston, he did not spend half of his time on the project. US Justice Department also claimed that some of the grand funds were used in some other projects.
Boerrigter sued Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was misused grant money targeted for genetic research in US District Court in 1997. This case was under the provision that a private individual can sue a business for misusing the payment which is from the federal government. Beth Israel has agreed to pay $920,000 to settle federal. The hospital strongly states that the payment is a compromise. It is just used to avoid spending more time and money on a trial; this case would not hurt the reputation and influence the leading position of the hospital as a world-class research center.
Under the law, Boerrigter can get 25 percent of the amount of money has been recovered if the suit is successful. As part of the settlement, Boerrigter who exposed the fraud by filing a whistle blower suit agreed to get $156,000 which is a 17 percent of the recovered money.
LAW: Fraud is a tort which always happens in a negotiation or contract. Fraud is to deceive other people purposely and the deception would injure others.
Whistle blower is an employee exposes the illegal behavior of his company. In general, whistle blower is protecting in 5 situation:
1. Constitutional Protection for Government Employees: Governments would not revenge for their employees who blow the whistle. Thus, those employees who worked for federal, state, or local governments are protected to have a free speech under the U.S.
2. Statutory Protection for Federal Employees: Federal government would not revenge for employees who blow the whistle. The employee can get award and attorney s fees back.
3. Wrongdoing by Government Contractors: If an employee blow the whistle by the government contractor, the employee could sue the contractor on the behalf of the federal government. The employee can receive between 15 to 25 percent of the damage awards.
4. When an Employee Is Involved in the Illegal Activity: Courts will protect employees who report wrongdoing out of fear if not they will be implicated.
5. When an Employee Is Not Involved in Illegal Activity: If an employee report the wrongdoing and does not involve in the activity, the courts will still protect the employees.
COMMENT: Obviously, Beth Israel is misusing the grant money which is a fraud. First, Dr. Gossen as a Beth Israel researcher for the study would spend 50 percents of his time on the study, but other researcher could point out that he left Boston and did not spend half of his time on it. Second, the hospital used the funds on some other projects. Thus, the medical center made two huge mistakes in this case and had to be liable for it.
I disagree with the statement of Beth Israel that this lawsuit would not affect its leading role as a world-class center. Since the amount that is involved in this case is over millions, it was not a small fraud claim. Definitely, this case would make those non-profit organization decreases the amount of funds to Beth Israel. If the amount of research grants is decreasing, Beth Israel Deaconess will has a lower rank among hospitals. Thus, it would influence its leadership.
This case reminds other hospitals that misusing the grants is a serious crime. It also reminds those researchers who works for grant study that complete the research with the requirement is important as well. Researchers would not ignore what they have promised to do to the project.
This case also encourages people to expose alleged fraud by filing whistle blower suit. Just like Boerrigter in this case, he got 17 percents because he exposed the fraud. It told the public that exposing a fraud with evidences by whistle blower could earn money. This made more people expose what they know about the fraud of organizations to the court. It has positive influence for the public.
GUN MAKERS, CLAIMING JURY MISCONDUCT, SEEK TO THROW OUT NEGLIGENCE VERDICT
CITE: The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, February 17, 1999. Page B 11.
FACTS: The gun markers industry would throw out negligence verdict because misconduct the case. Some jurors had ignore much of the evidence presented by the plaintiffs attorney and substituted a method of their own invention to determine whether gun companies had been negligent and ought to pay damages. In addition, some jurors gave up the support for companies to agree to a compromise that they did not believe in.
A federal court in Brooklyn last week found that 15 of 25 gun makers distributed weapons negligently. The jury of nine women and two men imposed a total of $520,000 in damages against three companies which are American Arms Inc., the Beretta U.S.A. Corp. unit of Italy s Beretta SpA and the Taurus Manufacturing International Inc. unit of Brazil s Forjas Taurus SA. These three companies are involved in one of the seven shootings in the case. A federal court jury decided to find gun company liability in three of the shooting, but the jury just award damages in only one of the three cases. Thus, the companies are going to argue that the jury compromise on liability in exchange for giving zero damages.
LAW: Negligence is hurting someone not purposely and unintentionally. In order to win a negligence case, the plaintiff have to show all of the following five elements:
1. Duty: the defendant has the duty of due care to the plaintiff.
2. Breach: did the defendant be a reasonable person in the case? If someone were in the similar situation of the defendant, would this person breach his duty in the case? If not, the defendant breaches his duty.
3. Factual case: the defendant caused and led to the injury.
4. Foreseeable type of harm: the harm is foreseeable for the defendant.
5. Injury: plaintiff can show physically and psychologic injury. The injury is real and true.
COMMENT: I know some more about law by reading this article. Before I read this article, I thought that jurors must be so professional and would not make any mistakes. I also thought that their decisions must be perfect and undoubtful. After this, I knew that it is possible for jurors to make mistakes and be negligent. Just like the gun makers case, the jury made mistakes on the awarding damages. Thus, jurors are not perfect and they may make mistakes as well. This reminds me that if there is any chance that I will file a lawsuit in the future, I have to be careful of the process and outcome of the court. If I found out there is any points that they are negligent, I can sue them and seek for my loss.
Negligence made by jurors caused effective outcome. In this case, the negligence of the jurors caused the gun makers industry could throw out negligence verdict against them. If the gun makers companies could win the lawsuit in the future, the professional skills of jurors would be criticized. Many people would discuss about it.
TEACHING EXPERIENCE PROBES A MAJOR PLUS IN BIG SMOKING CASE XPlaintiff s Attorney Says Years In the Classroom Helped Her Win Philip Morris Case
CITE: The Wall Street Journal, Wednesday, February 17, 1999. Page B 11.
FACTS: Madelyn Chaber who was a New York elementary schoolteacher represents Patricia Henley in a lawsuit in San Francisco. Her communication skill got through to jurors and helped the winning of plaintiff. She was well prepared for the case and collected evidences to prove the harm of smoking. Ms Chaber won the biggest damage award ever against Philip Morris which is a tobacco company. The state court jury award $51.5 million because smoking caused him has an inoperable lung cancer. 51.5 million is triple of the amount of the plaintiff sought for. It shook the industry that smokers can cause a huge threat to them.
When she was a new attorney, she got involved in asbestos litigation in San Francisco. At the time, retardant insulatin material were commonly used in shipbuildings and construction trades. She represents workers to suit the material caused pulmonary disease. For example, asbestiosis, a debilitating hardening of the lungs, mesothelioma, and lung cancer.
LAW: Litigation is related to lawsuits. It is a process of filing all document or useful things in the court. It relates to trial finally. There are 4 steps before the trial:
1. Complaint: short and plain statement written file by plaintiff and going to send to the court. All lawsuit has to begin with complaint.
2. Factor of judgement: to find out the elements of the judgement.
3. Discovery: knowing other side s position, strength and weakness.
a) Interrogatories: statement sent to the other side
b) Deposition: bringing other party to answer questions under oath and type.
c) Demand produce document: asking other side s documents for record.
d) Physical and mental exam: ordering an examination for other parties if necessary.
4. Summary Judgment: Both sides make sure if there is necessary to have a trial.