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Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
People v. Warner-Lambert Co.
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*Case Brief Anatomy includes: Brief Prologue, Complete Case Brief, Brief Epilogue
- The Brief Prologue provides necessary case brief introductory information and includes:
- Topic: Identifies the topic of law and where this case fits within your course outline.
- Parties: Identifies the cast of characters involved in the case.
- Procedural Posture & History: Shares the case history with how lower courts have ruled on the matter.
- Case Key Terms, Acts, Doctrines, etc.: A case specific Legal Term Dictionary.
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- The Case Brief is the complete case summarized and authored in the traditional Law School I.R.A.C. format. The Pro case brief includes:
- Brief Facts: A Synopsis of the Facts of the case.
- Rule of Law: Identifies the Legal Principle the Court used in deciding the case.
- Facts: What are the factual circumstances that gave rise to the civil or criminal case? What is the relationship of the Parties that are involved in the case. Review the Facts of this case here:
Warner-Lambert Co. (Defendant) is a manufacturing company that produces chewing gum. The gum is manufactured in a warehouse, with various kinds of machines and chemicals. Magnesium stearate (MS) is a dust-like lubricant that is applied to the gum. The gum then passes through a Uniplast machine and is sprayed with liquid nitrogen. The process disperses MS dust into the air, which can accumulate at the base of the Uniplast machines. MS and liquid nitrogen are considered safe and are often used in the industry; however, if enough MS dust remains in the air, it can pose a significant risk of explosion if ignited. Liquid nitrogen may cause production of liquid oxygen during a process called “liquefaction,” which is also easily ignited. One day, the plant was operating one of the Uniplast machines, and employees were removing settled MS dust. There was a sudden explosion near the operating machine, followed by a second, much larger explosion, accompanied by a fire. Six workers died, and more than fifty were injured. Warner-Lambert Co. and four officials of the corporation, Kraft, O’Mahoney, O’Rourke, and Harris (Defendants), were charged with second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Second-degree manslaughter is characterized by an awareness of a risk, and the disregard of that risk, while criminally negligent homicide, is characterized by the failure to perceive a risk. With respect to each crime, Defendants’ culpable conduct must have caused the death of the person. The prosecution offered two theories for the initial cause of the explosions, one attributed to a mechanical spark igniting the Uniplast machine and another hypothesizing that liquid nitrogen dripped onto the settled MS dust, creating liquid oxygen, which ignited. Defendants moved to dismiss the indictment. The trial court granted the motion, but the appellate division reversed the order. Defendants appealed.
- Issue(s): Lists the Questions of Law that are raised by the Facts of the case.
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- The Brief Prologue closes the case brief with important forward-looking discussion and includes:
- Policy: Identifies the Policy if any that has been established by the case.
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