The Food-Chain Issue for Corporate Punishment: What Criminal Law and Punitive Damages Can Learn from Each Other
Engage, Vol. 9, No. 1, February 2008
7 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2008 Last revised: 22 Mar 2008
The admiralty case now at the Supreme Court, Exxon v. Baker, presents the food-chain question for corporate punishment: how high in the corporate hierarchy must misbehavior go before the corporation itself may be punished? Every American jurisdiction allows corporations to be punished with criminal liability and with some form of punitive damages. In both criminal law and the law of punitive damages, there is persistent division about the food-chain question. However, the fields develop with virtually no contact from one to the other, and the rules states adopt in each field have no correlation with the rules they adopt in the other. I survey approaches in criminal law and punitive damages, argue that states have good reason to adopt the same rule in both fields, and point to several particular ways in which the development of the law in one field can profit from the insights of the other.
Keywords: Vicarious Liability for Punitive Damages, Corporate Criminal Liability, Punishing Corporations, Exxon v. Baker
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation