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Senate updates manslaughter statute
September 13, 2013

BOSTON – Yesterday, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation to strengthen penalties against corporations convicted of manslaughter.  The Senate bill increases the fine from $1,000 to no less than $250,000 and includes the possibility of corporate debarment for up to 10 years, said State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield). 
 
“This meaningful reform ensures companies will be held accountable for decisions they make that lead to human casualties, and gives our Attorney General and her staff the tools necessary to address corporate manslaughter,” said Downing.
 
“The law on corporate manslaughter was put in place in 1819 and the legislation we passed today is a necessary and common sense update,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “This change will bring meaningful penalties against corporations convicted of manslaughter and ensure that corporations are held accountable for their actions.” 
 
“I applaud the Senate for passing this common-sense update to our manslaughter statute which will enable us to hold corporations accountable when found guilty of criminally negligent behavior,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said.  “While no monetary sum can compensate for the loss of a loved one, the current $1,000 penalty is woefully inadequate.”
 
The statute instituting the $1,000 fine was signed into law by Governor John Brooks on February 19, 1819 and has not been amended since. Currently, the only penalty faced by corporations is a monetary fine.
 
The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
 
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