All torts involve some form of injury. Torts always involve somebody who is responsible for safety, “sleeps at the wheel;” and in that momentary lapse of irresponsibility – a disaster occurs. There are basically two different types of torts. Torts of negligence make a claim that the defendant is personally responsible for the injury done to the environment.
Torts of strict liability claim that it was the manufacturer of the defective product that is responsible for an environmental disaster. Torts of negligence can be made against individuals or corporations. The law deals with corporations like it does with regular individuals. They are subject to the same civil litigation as any individual member that allegedly injured the environment of one’s place of business, dwelling, livelihood, or did undue harm to the ecosystem.
Torts of strict liability may be brought against the product that a company used that was defective, causing the environmental disaster to happen.
An example of scenarios in which either torts of negligence or strict liability is appropriate will be presented in the following passage. The situation is hypothetical and are made for strictly illustrative purposes.
A large oil company has an off-shore oil rig. The geographic region is home to various species of wildlife and the local oyster and fishing industry’s livelihood depends on pristine estuaries in which the environmental balance sustains life under specific environmental conditions.
The off-shore oil rig explodes and there is a large oil leak and ocean currents wash the thick-black pollutants ashore blazing a black path of destruction and threatening the viability of the local fishing economy. The fishermen get angry, there must be somebody has to be at fault for this disaster. Accidents happen, however, most would be prevented had somebody did not act irresponsibly.
The oyster gatherers and fishermen have three choices in regards to sue someone. The decision is mostly contingent upon the wealth of the entity that is subject to lawsuit. The fishermen can sue the oil company employee that was responsible for safety. They can sue him personally. Ultimately, protections from personal lawsuit are greater than corporate lawsuit. Besides, the employee was doing his or her job to the best of their abilities.
There must be someone further up the chain of command that is answerable and accountable for their wrongdoing. They will file of a tort of negligence against the company as a whole as a means of avoiding allegations of personal culpability of that injury. Corporations are collective entities that share responsibility among each member. Corporations have their own bank accounts and disaster insurance. Therefore, the fishermen might see fit to sue the corporation in the tort of negligence form.
The lawsuit may be followed by a counter-suit on part of the corporation, changing the tort of negligence to a tort of strict liability. This will happen if the corporation alleges that the maker of the valve that failed is responsible because that part of the oil rig was defective.
If this is true, then strict liability is applicable. The fishermen can file a tort of strict liability as a first step as well. The third party manufacturer of the failed valve must recognize the lawsuit. Compelling grounds for strict liability, for example and not limited to this example, is if the manufacturer failed to recall the defective valve when it was appropriate to do so.
Therefore, the liability lies on the valve manufacturer and not the oil company itself.