CSI/SOG Episode 11

GM executives and a peanut guy. Each was guilty of criminal negligence which caused many deaths.

The challenge: Figure out before the end of the story who went to prison, and whose stockholders paid a fine.

Here’s a clue, deftly concealed in an old Aesop fable.

THE WIND AND THE SUN were disputing which was the stronger.

Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin.”

So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair.

Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.

The background:

In 2008–9, nine people died of salmonella poisoning, traced to a peanut processing plant in Georgia.

Between 2003 and 2007, at least 124 people were killed in car accidents traced to faulty ignition switches in General Motors cars.

Who got what?: The CEO of the peanut plant was sent to prison for 28 years. GM was fined somewhere around a billion dollars. No GM execs were prosecuted.

There it is. Peanut butter guy got 28 years, GM execs walked and their stockholders paid the settlement.

The lesson: A prosecutor can litigate his JD off talking finance, or can bring some heat and make things happen.

Your next challenge: Determine what will happen to whom in the VW case.

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