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Criminally Negligent Homicide in a Hurricane?

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Terry Spencer reports for Associated Press:

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) -- Nine elderly patients died after being kept inside a nursing home that turned into a sweatbox when Hurricane Irma knocked out its air conditioning for three days, even though just across the street was a fully functioning and cooled hospital.

From the perspective of Florida Gov. Rick Scott and relatives of those at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, criminal charges are warranted. But under Florida law, a prosecution might be difficult. Two of three ex-state prosecutors contacted by The Associated Press had doubts as to whether Dr. Jack Michel, the home's owner, or any of his employees will be charged.

All agreed that any criminal prosecutions will hinge on whether the nursing home staff made honest mistakes or were "culpably negligent." Florida defines that as "consciously doing an act or following a course of conduct that the defendant must have known, or reasonably should have known, was likely to cause death or great bodily injury."

Hollywood police and the state attorney's office are investigating.

2 Comments

When does the law of "sauve qui peut" engage?

Corrollary law school question: Secret Service Agent takes oath to give up life for President--but at the moment of truth, he doesn't and President is dead, and the failure to shield is efficient cause--manslaughter?

If you make yourself utterly dependent on air-conditioning, you must have
a suitable generator! And why not call 911?
Isn't that negligence the gist of the case?

When my grandfather, a chemical engineer, moved to N. Florida in the 50s,
he chose and then configured the house for maximum coolness. A brick
house it was, facing the right way from the sun, with tree shade, and
large attic fans which made it a very livable without air conditioning.

Beginning fom C. Florida on southward, they don't ship bricks down from
Alabama from what I was told. I doubt anyone in Hollywood (FL) cared
to posture the building smartly, just relying on air-conditioning.

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