1–8. a Question of Ethics—Stare Decisis.
On July 5, 1884, Dudley, Stephens, and Brooks—“all able-bodied English seamen”—and a teenage English boy were cast adrift in a life- boat following a storm at sea. They had no water with them in the boat, and all they had for sustenance were two one-pound tins of turnips. On July 24, Dudley proposed that one of the four in the lifeboat be sacrificed to save the others. Stephens agreed with Dudley, but Brooks refused to consent—and the boy was never asked for his opinion. On July 25, Dudley killed the boy, and the three men then fed on the boy’s body and blood. Four days later, the men were rescued by a passing vessel. They were taken to England and tried for the murder of the boy. If the men had not fed on the boy’s body, they would probably have died of starvation within the four-day period. The boy, who was in a much weaker condition, would likely have died before the rest. [Regina v. Dudley and Stephens, 14 Q.B.D. (Queen’s Bench Division, England) 273 (1884)] (See The Common Law Tradition.)
1. The basic question in this case is whether the survivors should be subject to penalties under English criminal law, given the men’s unusual circumstances. You be the judge and decide the issue. Give the reasons for your decision.
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2. Should judges ever have the power to look beyond the writ- ten “letter of the law” in making their decisions? Why or why not?
3–3. spotlight on pfizer—Corporate social Responsibility.
Methamphetamine (meth) is an addictive drug made chiefly in small toxic labs (STLs) in homes, tents, barns, or hotel rooms. The manufacturing process is dangerous, often resulting in explosions, burns, and toxic fumes. Government entities spend time and resources to find and destroy STLs, imprison meth dealers and users, treat addicts, and provide services for affected families. Meth cannot be made without ingredients that are also used in cold and allergy medications. Arkansas has one of the highest numbers of STLs in the United States. To recoup the costs of fighting the meth epidemic, twenty counties in Arkansas filed a suit against Pfizer, Inc., which makes cold and allergy medications.
What is Pfizer’s ethical responsibility here, and to whom is it owed? Why? [Ashley County, Arkansas v. Pfizer, Inc., 552 F.3d 659 (8th Cir. 2009)] (See Approaches to Ethical Reasoning.)
4–2. The equal protection Clause.
With the objectives of pre- venting crime, maintaining property values, and preserving the quality of urban life, New York City enacted an ordi- nance to regulate the locations of commercial establishments that featured adult entertainment. The ordinance expressly applied to female, but not male, topless entertainment. Adele Buzzetti owned the Cozy Cabin, a New York City cabaret that featured female topless dancers. Buzzetti and an anonymous dancer filed a suit in a federal district court against the city, asking the court to block the enforcement of the ordinance. The plaintiffs argued, in part, that the ordinance violated the equal protection clause.
Under the equal protection clause, what standard should the court apply in considering this ordinance? Under this test, how should the court rule? Why? (See Due Process and Equal Protection.)
Michael Manin, an airline pilot, was twice convicted of disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor. To renew his flight certification with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Manin filed an application that asked him about his criminal history. He did not disclose his two convictions. When these came to light more than ten years later, Manin argued that he had not known that he was required to report convictions for minor misdemeanors. The NTSB’s policy was to consider an appli- cant’s understanding of what information a question sought before determining whether an answer was false. But without explanation, the agency departed from this policy, refused to consider Manin’s argument, and revoked his certification.
Was this action arbitrary or capricious? Explain. [Manin v. National Transportation Safety Board, 627 F.3d 1239 (D.C.Cir. 2011)] (See Agency Creation and Powers.)
6–10. a Question of ethics—wrongful Interference.
White Plains Coat & Apron Co. and Cintas Corp. are competitors. White Plains had five-year exclusive contracts with some of its customers. As a result of Cintas’s soliciting of business, dozens of White Plains’ customers breached their contracts and entered into rental agreements with Cin- tas. White Plains filed a suit against Cintas, alleging wrong- ful interference. [White Plains Coat & Apron Co. v. Cintas Corp., 8 N.Y.3d 422, 867 N.E.2d 381 (2007)] (See Inten- tional Torts against Persons.)
1. What are the two policies at odds in wrongful interfer- ence cases? When there is an existing contract, which of these interests should be accorded priority? Why?
2. Is a general interest in soliciting business for profit a suf- ficient defense to a claim of wrongful interference with a contractual relationship? What do you think? Why?