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United States v. Dotterweich

320 U.S. 277 (1943)

tl;dr: The legislature may impose strict vicarious liability against those convicted of public welfare criminal offenses.

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The case of United States v. Dotterweich involved the Buffalo Pharmacal Company and its president being charged with violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by shipping misbranded and adulterated drugs in interstate commerce. The president was found guilty on all counts, but the corporation was not. The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Dotterweich's conviction on the grounds that only the corporation could be prosecuted unless it was a counterfeit corporation serving as a screen for Dotterweich. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the president could be held liable for the corporation's actions under the Act of 1938, which was designed to enlarge and stiffen the penal net. The Court also clarified that Section 303(c) of the Act only offers immunity from prosecution to the principal and not to any other parties involved, unless the corporation is merely an individual's alter ego.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act holds all those involved in the distribution of misbranded or adulterated drugs responsible, not just the proprietor. The court should prioritize protecting consumers over avoiding hardship. The District Court properly left responsibility to the jury, and there was enough evidence to support the verdict. However, the dissenting opinion questions whether corporate officers can be held personally liable for violating the Act, as clear statutory provisions are necessary to impose personal liability on officers. The current statute does not provide such clear warning, and the history of federal food and drug legislation suggests that Congress did not intend to hold officers liable.

The 1938 Act does not hold individual officers responsible for corporate violations, and courts cannot change this. Creating liability without clear Congressional intention is dangerous and should not be left to the discretion of prosecutors, judges, and juries. The dissenting justices do not agree with the Court's decision in this case.

IRACIssue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion

๐Ÿคฏ High points ๐ŸคฏKey points contributed by students on LSD

Facts & Holding

Facts:The defendant was the president of a company that purchased...

Holding:The Court upheld the defendant's conviction, reasoning that strict, vicarious...

United States v. Dotterweich

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