Seretech Corporation v. United States (1999), also known as the Seretech Decision, was a landmark Supreme Court of the United States decision that upheld a private corporation's right to maintain an armed force for the protection of its personnel and property, and that such forces were a public benefit. In essence, the decision gave corporations the right to have private armies.

Facts of the caseEdytuj

In the end of 1998 in New York City, the Teamsters' local union went on strike, halting all food shipments The Teamsters' leadership were able to negotiate a contract with the New York state government, but the members refused to accept it. Food riots broke out due to the continued three-month long strike. Before the strike, Seretech Transport carried most of the city's vegetable shipments. On February 21, 1999, a mob on Staten Island assaulted a Seretech refrigerated truck believing it to carry food. The truck was owned by Seretech Medical Research and carried infectious biomedical waste. Initially, the mob outnumbered the Seretech security forces, but both sides gathered reinforcements and it became a running battle as the Seretech truck and accompanying security vehicles moved to a Seretech research facility in Linden, New Jersey. Throughout the night and into the morning, the mob tried to storm the facility. Civilian police finally responded and broke up the mob. Approximately 20 Seretech employees and 200 rioters died.

The decisionEdytuj

The United States federal government quickly put together a criminal negligence case based on violations of city, state, and federal law. The government also desired a charge of premeditated murder, but felt a conviction on that charge unlikely. The trial court in United States v. Seretech Corporation found Seretech guilty, and Seretech's lawyers immediately filed an appeal. Since Seretech is the appealing party, it becomes first in the case name. In an unusually rapid decision, in late 1999, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Terence Ordell issued a 193-page opinion. Along with upholding the right to maintain and use an armed security force to protect its own personnel and property, the opinion also commended the corporation for its public duty in protecting innocent citizens from contamination and ensuring safe disposal of the waste. The Seretech decision became the basis for corporate lawyers to assert more rights over the government, ultimately leading to the Shiawase Decision.


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