On May 19, 2010, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ("SJC") released its unanimous decision in Comm. v. Life Care Centers of America, Inc., a case of first impression where the SJC considered the applicability of the collective knowledge theory as a basis for prosecution for involuntary manslaughter or neglect in the death of a resident of a long term care facility. This case was the subject of a prior client alert that you may access here. On direct appellate review, the SJC decided that a corporation could not be prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter or neglect based on a theory of collective knowledge and conduct of multiple of its employees. This decision is consistent with the position argued in the amicus curiae brief submitted by Proskauer on behalf of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association and the American Health Care Association, which may be accessed here.
Specifically, the SJC noted that, "[b]y its theory of aggregation, the Commonwealth is attempting to promote conduct that is no more than negligent on the part of one or more employees into wanton or reckless conduct on the part of the corporation. This theory is illogical and such an argument cannot succeed. If at least one employee did not act wantonly or recklessly, then the corporation cannot be held to a higher standard of culpability by combining various employees’ acts." Comm. v. Life Care Centers of America, Inc., 2010 WL 1964627 at *3 (May 19, 2010) (emphasis added). The opinion is available here, and coverage by the Boston Globe is available here.