View Poll Results: Do you believe in corporate personhood?

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  • Yes

    3 8.82%
  • No

    26 76.47%
  • Other (Please explain)

    5 14.71%
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Thread: Corporate Personhood

  1. #71
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Again, as I stated earlier, the issue is personhood, not liability limits. Some limits on liability are reasonable. For the reasons being discussed.

    All of these concerns could be addressed through some other mechanism, without conferring the rights of a person on en entity that is fundamentally incapable of being held accountable for its actions.

    I once read an explanation of the differences between a corporation and a person. How many wheelbarrows of dirt can a person push in their lifetime?
    whatever the answer, its a finite number. A corporation can hire people to push an infinite number of wheelbarrows. This was an example illustrating the fundamental difference in "income" between individuals and corps.

    There's also the ability for a corporation to extend a pseudopod, shielded by liability limits, which it uses to engage in some questionable activity somewhere in the world. If its activities are deemed unacceptable, and its goals thwarted, the most the parent company stands to lose is the pseudopod. The functionally immortal corporation lives on.

    In reality corporations resemble viruses or cancers far more than people. Or a yeast or mold. Growing for their own growth, with little concern for the medium in which they grow. Not like a "member" of the medium.

    I know these are simplifications, but the question in the OP concerned corporate personhood, a legal fiction. Not limits on liability. Focusing on this aspect, which could be addressed in some other way, ignores the question in the OP.
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  2. #72
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    Only temporarily, as time goes on the effects of the actions are limited, because of limited liability, so it doesn't really present a problem.
    "Limited liability" is really only an issue if the company goes bankrupt. If it doesn't go bankrupt, the funds will come out of the company's assets (and therefore, out of the stockholders' equity). You're right that investors aren't worried about torts exceeding the value of the company, nor should they have to be, from a practical standpoint.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla
    No not every person should of been sued but the people responsible for the operations, should be liable.
    With their skin on the line, it would cause them to act with greater care to avoid losing their shirts.
    The law already provides for employees of the company to be held accountable for crimes they commit on the job, and in certain cases, for torts. A person acting outside the scope of his employment will be held personally liable for torts. A person violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act can be held personally liable for torts. A person who commits torts for personal gain (rather than corporate gain) can be held personally liable for torts. A person who treats his corporation as a legal appendage of himself rather than as a legitimate business can be held personally liable for torts.

    But being able to sue individual employees for every tort they commit in the scope of employment is a bad idea. There is a certain expectation that large corporations know the law and are able to stay within it; they have corporate legal departments, after all. There is much less expectation that individuals know civil law in and out. If your employer tells you to do something and you have no reason to question his/her ethics, I think most people would assume that it was legal.

    Holding employees personally liable for all torts committed on behalf of their place of employment would terrify employees and cause them to duck responsibility. There are certain exceptions, like the ones I mentioned above, where they aren't approved by the employer and/or are unquestionably unethical. But in general it makes sense to shield some employees.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 03-30-11 at 03:20 PM.
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  3. #73
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Mayor Snorkum View Post
    AMAZING!

    Forty one posts before anyone mentions the fact that the whole foo-foraw over the Citizens United decision was that it placed groups of citizens who own corporate stock on an equal footing with people in unions, insofar as their political participation goes.

    Corporations clearly ARE NOT given immunity from prosecution. Ask Ken Lay about that.

    Corporations, or rather, the people that own them, are granted the same protections under the Bill of Rights against unwarranted search and seizure as any other person in the country. Does anyone seriously want to see those protections removed so the BATF/DEA/FBI can play more Branch Davidian games?

    Does anyone seriously think that the corporate officers should be held criminally liable and face jail time if Joe $15/hour dip-tank operator accidentally or even purposely drains a vat of silver nitrate into the city's waste water treatment system? No, they should only be held liable if it can be proven such a criminal act is done as part of corporate policy under orders.

    Holding a person criminally liable for an act requires, among other things, for that person to have intent. A corporation cannot have intent. Only it's officers can. The individual stockholders cannot be held criminally liable for a corporations criminal acts unless they're officers of the company. They can, of course, be held liable for their own actions, but merely choosing to purchase stock is not a criminal act. Gee, what happens if an investor buy's Joe's Blue Chip Mutual Fund and one of the fund's corporate holdings is deemed "criminally liable" for some act. From what Mayor Snorkum has read of some of the opinions here, those mutual fund share holders can liable, too.

    Which is nonsense.
    A corporation can't have intent. Another reason its not a person.

    Thank you.
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  4. #74
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    "Limited liability" is really only an issue if the company goes bankrupt. If it doesn't go bankrupt, the funds will come out of the company's assets (and therefore, out of the stockholders' equity). You're right that investors aren't worried about torts exceeding the value of the company, nor should they have to be, from a practical standpoint.



    The law already provides for employees of the company to be held accountable for crimes they commit on the job, and in certain cases, for torts. A person acting outside the scope of his employment will be held personally liable for torts. A person violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act can be held personally liable for torts. A person who commits torts for personal gain (rather than corporate gain) can be held personally liable for torts.

    But being able to sue individual employees for every tort they commit in the scope of employment is a bad idea. There is a certain expectation that large corporations know the law and are able to stay within it; they have corporate legal departments, after all. There is much less expectation that individuals know civil law in and out. If your employer tells you to do something and you have no reason to question his/her ethics, I think most people would assume that it was legal.

    Holding employees personally liable for all torts committed on behalf of their place of employment would terrify employees and cause them to duck responsibility. There are certain exceptions, like the ones I mentioned above, where they aren't approved by the employer and/or are unquestionably unethical. But in general it makes sense to shield some employees.
    I think you're missing what I'm saying in large part.

    If Bob and Jim own, Dow Chemicals.

    Bob, unbeknown to Jim, dumps 3000 gallons of benzene in the local river, kills some fish and a few people.
    Bob should be completely financially liable from his personal possessions to his share of the business.
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    I think you're missing what I'm saying in large part.

    If Bob and Jim own, Dow Chemicals.

    Bob, unbeknown to Jim, dumps 3000 gallons of benzene in the local river, kills some fish and a few people.
    Bob should be completely financially liable from his personal possessions to his share of the business.
    And assuming that that is a criminal act as well as a civil tort, he would be.
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  6. #76
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    And since that is a criminal act as well as a civil tort, he would be.
    The whole point is that the individuals who commit the tort should be wholly liable.
    Should not be able to hide assets behind the legal person.

    As it stands, the legal person is made liable in most instances, when it does not have a will of it's own.
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  7. #77
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    And assuming that that is a criminal act as well as a civil tort, he would be.
    Every criminal act is a civil tort.
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  8. #78
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla View Post
    The whole point is that the individuals who commit the tort should be wholly liable.
    Should not be able to hide assets behind the legal person.
    Depends on the circumstances. There are lots of times when it would NOT be a good idea to hold employees personally liable for the actions of the corporation. They may not know it's illegal, or may not be aware of what the corporation is doing. If you hold them liable regardless of the specific circumstances, it will discourage employees from taking on responsibilities.

    The situations in which employees can be held personally liable are spelled out, as they should be. And they're typically limited to situations where the employee obviously knows what he's doing is unethical, or where he's acting outside the scope of employment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Guerrilla
    As it stands, the legal person is made liable in most instances, when it does not have a will of it's own.
    Well, if the action was done on behalf of the corporation, the corporation's assets should be held liable. Typically corporations have more money than employees, so this makes sense. If a major car manufacturer makes parts that they know are defective and causes tens of millions of dollars of civil damages, who are you going to go after? The car manufacturer with a market capitalization of many billions of dollars, or the individuals who signed off on the defective parts, who are worth maybe $100,000?

    The corporation itself might then turn around and then sue the individuals responsible for costing them money. But the corporation is going to have to eat most of the cost, assuming that it was done within the scope of employment.
    Last edited by Kandahar; 03-30-11 at 03:37 PM.
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  9. #79
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by MaggieD View Post
    Every criminal act is a civil tort.
    But not every tort is a crime.
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  10. #80
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    Re: Corporate Personhood

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Depends on the circumstances. There are lots of times when it would NOT be a good idea to hold employees personally liable for the actions of the corporation. They may not know it's illegal, or may not be aware of what the corporation is doing. If you hold them liable regardless of the specific circumstances, it will discourage employees from taking on responsibilities.

    The situations in which employees can be held personally liable are spelled out, as they should be. And they're typically limited to situations where the employee obviously knows what he's doing is unethical, or where he's acting outside the scope of employment.
    The employee situation is a different argument altogether.
    My original argument is framed from the position that it is one of the owners, but it doesn't matter if a person is ignorant of the law.

    At least, that is what the law common tells us.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kandahar View Post
    Well, if the action was done on behalf of the corporation, the corporation's assets should be held liable. Typically corporations have more money than employees, so this makes sense. If a major car manufacturer makes parts that they know are defective and causes tens of millions of dollars of civil damages, who are you going to go after? The car manufacturer with a market capitalization of many billions of dollars, or the individuals who signed off on the defective parts, who are worth maybe $100,000?
    In the principal-agent relationship, the principal is responsible for the actions of the agent.
    So unless the employee just went out completely on his own and it can be proven, then the owner is still responsible for the tort.
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