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Social and Legal Implications of R. v. Koebel, 2004 (Case Study Sample)


Social and Legal Implications of R. v. Koebel, 2004


Social and Legal Implications of R. v. Koebel, 2004
Institutional Affiliation
While Stan and Frank Koebel pleaded guilty to endangering the public by failing to fulfil their respective roles as heads of the Walkerton Public Utilities Commission to operate the town’s water system, it was clear from the case that their negligence was not the mere reason for the major tragedy that befell the town. The two brothers engaged in unsafe and improper operating practices through their years at the helm of the PUC even before the outbreak happened, and this had a direct impact on the tragedy. However, their lack of sufficient training and expertise to identify the vulnerability of the water well to surface contamination and their lack of understanding of the need to have continuous monitors could not be reason enough for the blame being placed solely on them. The court’s ruling, some of it which was based on the report from the inquiry into the Walkerton e-coli outbreak, had its own social and legal implications, especially that which stemmed from the bias towards their inability to perform their roles. Yet, it avoided putting across that the government’s checks and balances and processes of ensuring that everything that was done which was important for the general public was done with utmost care. There should have been a conclusion during the making of statements by Judge O’Connor and during the ruling and sentencing by Justice Durno that the actions of the government resulted in greater harm than that which was done by the two brothers.
Socially, the implication of the use of punishment and the ignorance of the law as a defense by Koebel’s lawyers of the role they played in the outbreak that led to the deaths of many and that caused many to get ill across Walkerton is that there could be licensed operators in the future whose failure to perform critical technical tasks, even at minimally acceptable levels could 

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