Manslaughter Charges Dropped | IFSMA Blog


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Manslaughter Charges Dropped

Manslaughter charges against two BP Employees were dropped in USA.
The two employees were the highest ranking employees supervisors aboard the Horizon at the time of the disaster.

The seaman’s manslaughter charges were dropped under a historical statute enacted in 1838 to provide better safety for passengers aboard ships by demanding the utmost caution in the operations of a vessel, with criminal liability if fatalities resulted as a lapse of judgment. The Seaman’s Manslaughter Statute states that “every captain, engineer, pilot, or other person employed on any vessel, by whose misconduct, negligence or inattention to his duties, [causes] the life of any person [to be] destroyed, every owner or charterer [of the vessel] shall be fined… or imprisoned not more than ten years.” The statute goes on to specify the implications if the owner or charterer of the vessel is a corporation, in which case “any executive officer of such corporation… charged with control and management of the operation, equipment, and navigation, who has knowingly and wilfully caused or allowed such fraud, neglect, misconduct or violation of life” will be subject to a fine and/or imprisonment for the manslaughter(s).

However, the statute was designed for the punishment of the corporation’s captains, engineers and pilots of the vessels, not the supervisors of a drilling operation, which was the case in the BP disaster.

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