Brief Fact Summary. The Defendants, MacDonald & Watson Waste Oil Co. and several of its officers including its president (Defendants), were convicted of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (the Act) in his role as president of business operating a waste disposal facility where hazardous waste had unlawfully been dumped.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A defendant, as president of company operating a waste disposal facility, cannot be held criminally liable for unlawful dumping of hazardous waste without evidence that the defendant had actual knowledge of the unlawful dumping, as required by the statute.
Issue. Is proof that the defendant President was the responsible corporate officer sufficient to support a conviction of knowingly transporting hazardous waste to a facility that did not have a permit to dispose of it?
Held. No. Reversed. The charge given by the trial court essentially counseled the jury that proof the defendant President was a responsible corporate officer of the company involved in the offense, was equivalent to proof that the defendant had knowledge of the hazardous waste ships to his company’s disposal facility. This standard of the responsible corporate officer doctrine is not applicable to offenses that require proof of defendant’s knowledge as an express element of the crime.
Discussion. The court in this case held that the responsible corporate officer doctrine did not apply essentially because this was not a mere regulatory misdemeanor offense, but a felony offense that included the element of actual knowledge of the unlawful activity.