Introduction to the Law

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Jody Blanke, Professor
Computer Information Systems and Law
Mercer University, Atlanta
The Law Evolves
 “The laws of society are more powerful than any law
that Congress can put on the books. Woe to any
businessman who doesn’t read the laws of society and
understand them.”
 Tom Stephens, CEO of Manville Corporation, 1988
Law and Public Policy
 “Public law – the formal rules embodied in
constitutions, statutes enacted by legislatures, judicial
decisions rendered by courts, and regulations
promulgated by administrative agencies – both
reflects and helps shape social expectations.”
 Constance Bagley and Diane Savage, 2009
Schools of Ethical Thought
 Deontological
 Duty-based ethics (rights-based ethics)
 Focus is on the action

Moral duties, e.g., tell the truth
 Immanuel Kant


Categorical imperative
“What if everyone acted in this manner?”
Schools of Ethical Thought
 Teleological
 Outcomes-based ethics
 Focus on the consequences
 Utilitarianism
 “Greatest good for the greatest number”

Cost-benefit analysis
 Jeremy Bentham
 John Stuart Mill
Corporate Social Responsibility
 “There is one and only one social responsibility of
business – to use its resources and engage in activities
designed to increase profits so long as it stays within
the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open
and free competition without deception or fraud.”
 Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize winner, 1972
 A.P. Smith v. Barlow (1953)
1982 Chicago Tylenol Murders
 Sept. 29 – the first of 7 people died
after taking Tylenol capsules
purchased in the Chicago area
 Tylenol accounted for 15% of J & J’s net
earnings of $468M in 1981
 Tylenol held 35% of the $1.2B painkiller market
 Oct. 5 – J & J recalled 31 million bottles of Tylenol
(worth an estimated $100M)
 Tylenol quickly recaptured market share
 Prompted change to caplet and tamper-evident safety
seals on boxes and bottles
The Rules of Society
 Regina v. Dudley and Stephens (1884)
Balancing Rights
 Kelo v. New London (2005)
 90-acre development plan
 115 privately owned properties
Balancing Rights
 Poletown v. Detroit (1981)
 GM wanted to keep 6,000 jobs in Detroit
 Poletown was 465 acres, had 4,200 residents, 1300
homes, 140 businesses, 6 churches, 1 hospital
Balancing Rights
 Poletown 1961
Poletown 1997
Balancing Rights
 Chattanooga, Baltimore
Promoting Values
 Charitable Immunity
 Flagiello v. Pennsylvania Hospital (1965)
 Good Samaritan Laws
 The Death of Lady Di
 The Seinfeld Finale
 Van Horn v. Watson (2008)
Playing By The Rules
 Merck – Vioxx
 risk
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