In the Massachusetts case, it seems increasingly clear that jurisdiction will be a big issue---the two suspects may not be U.S. citizens, it certainly seems the federal government has asserted jurisdiction over criminal matters, but what about any private citizens pursuing tort claims against the suspects (or other entities)?
In Texas, one of the biggest legal questions is whether (or how), under Texas law, a corporation can be prosecuted for criminal negligence. Perhaps the fertilizer company is not at fault; at this stage, however, any attorneys looking to resolve claims (wither civilly or criminally) have quite a few legal issues to work through.
If you're in this position, where would you start? How would you research an area with which you are unfamiliar? First, you could look for similar cases. You might start with news stories about similar incidents so that you can track down docket numbers and party names, then review those files to determine the claims brought in those cases and whether they are applicable in your situation. Bloomberg Law is a great resource available to you for free at law school to research dockets.
You might also look for an article, a great treatise, or other book. For Texas, try these:
- Transnational Corporate Liability: Accountability for Human Injury
- Criminal Liability (with a chapter about corporations)
- Punishing Corporate Negligence: Industrial Disasters and Criminal Law