If a Corporation (BP) Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter, Who Goes to Prison?

Friday, February 01, 2013
Tony Hayward, BP CEO at time of Deepwater Horizon explosion

Pleading guilty to killing someone usually means going to prison…unless the perpetrator is a corporation.


This week, BP agreed to 11 counts of manslaughter for the workers killed during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, when the Deepwater Horizon oilrig blew up.


But no one from the oil giant will serve time for the convictions. Instead, BP will pay a $4 billion fine, which is equivalent to what the company made in revenue every four days last year.


Also, BP will have five years to pay the fine. This news left some family members of those killed on the rig feeling bitter.


“I think BP is the real winner today,” Chris Jones, whose brother, Gordon Jones, was killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion, told the Houston Chronicle. “They got what they wanted—to resolve the criminal charges,” he added, “and they get a nice five-year payment plan to pay it off.”


In addition to the 11 felony manslaughter counts, BP’s plea deal included one misdemeanor count under the Clean Water Act; one misdemeanor count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act; and one felony count of obstructing Congress by deliberately understating the amount of oil that flowed after the blowout.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

BP Plea In Gulf Spill Case Okd By Judge (by Conrad Bibens, Houston Chronicle)

BP Wins Final Approval of Guilty Plea Over Gulf Oil Spill (by Jef Feeley and Allen Johnson Jr., Bloomberg)

BP Slithers away with Light Penalty for Gulf Explosion and Oil Spill Disaster (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Why No Prison for Banksters Who Caused Financial Crisis…Yet? (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


makesenseofit 9 years ago
It only makes sense that the corporation is an individual when it is advantageous to the corporation. It is a coporate entity when it is advantageous to the corporation.
P Bobb 9 years ago
If the CEO and the Board of Trustees faced jail time, corporations might be a little more responsible. The Supreme Court makes Corporations 'Super-Persons' who have all the Rights but none of the Responsibilities or Liabilities of live Flesh-and-Blood people.
Biv 9 years ago
To whom is this four billion dollar fine paid? The victims? The government?
Eric G. 9 years ago
SINCE the SCOTUS ruled corporations are in fact individuals and their ruling is legally 100% binding, correct; THEN, the entire board of directors at BP should be found guilty and serve time (pay) for the manslaughter crime. (Let's use this legal ruling in its complete capacity to send the message.)
Occupy Tabs 9 years ago
The CEO's, CFO's & COO's that's who and make them PHYSICALLY GO OUT and CLEAN UP THEIR MESS!
Tracy Overholser 9 years ago
That's a goddamm shame. Corporations are a legal person entity, but not a moral person entity; a corporation should not be a legal person entity! The fine was nothing! When will real morality rule rather than corrupt law? Law could be moral, but such doesn't currently exist. The world is upside down; people think that this world's way is right. Only few know it's wrong. May the family of the deceased worker be comforted & compensated. :(

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