When Negligence Is Not A Crime: Massachusetts SJC Draws Brighter Line Between Criminal And Civil Corporate Liability

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Companies face serious challenges when a terrible accident has happened (including substantial civil exposure). In the recent Life Care Centers decision, the Massachusetts SJC has rejected the "aggregation" theory of liability when a given actor's mental state is a required element. In so doing, the Court at least helped prevent the initiation of criminal proceedings against a corporate defendant unless there has been adequate proof that an individual whose action will properly bind the company to such exposure exists in the first place. The decision will be sure to have significant ramifications for both prosecutors and criminal defense counsel — and potentially civil litigators as well — in the future.

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