The role and function of law are varied and contingent on many factors depending on an individual enterprise, the citizen and the setting. Generally law exists to provide a foundation for society and to provide temperance, boundaries and governing principles.
In this particular case Cipollone was pursuing a lawsuit against Liggett, a manufacturing company engaged in the production of cigarettes. The charge was that the cigarette manufacturing company was engaged in false presentation of the risks and hazards of smoking and in a conspiracy to deprive the public of true scientific and health information regarding the harms and risks associated with smoking cigarettes in their advertising (Meiners, Ringleb & Edwards, 2008). Thus, it can be argued that using substantive law, Cipollone had a right to sue the cigarette company. Further, procedural laws provided the regulations and procedures or rules for suing the cigarette company. Laws in the civilian court are created so that if a company or other individual is not following rules and regulations as set forth by the law, than an individual or company can be sued so that the laws must be followed and fines may follow so that civilians and others can be sued for wrong doing. Criminal law is another matter. Criminal law is set forth so that people are protected from violators of the law.
In this instance, Cipollone believed that the Ligette Company presented a danger by breaking laws that included failure to warn the public including civilians of hazards associated with the use of cigarettes. Thus, civil law gave Cipollone a right to sue just as anyone has the right to sue if someone violates the law. In daily lives whether in a social or civilian or criminal context, law functions as a means of keeping the routine, and the moral and ethical standards in which people conduct themselves in a business and civilian context. The role of law in business and society includes helping to define what acceptable behavior within society is, as well as limiting activity that may be deemed detrimental to “public interest” (p. 6). Further the law and legal system serve other rules which include influencing behaviors of members of society, helping to resolve disputes, and maintaining social values (Meiners, Ringleb & Edwards, 2008). Further, the law serves as a means of attracting business development in areas where this can help build stronger communities.
The law in various areas may also reflect what is considered social norms. In the case of Cippollone and Ligette Company, one may realize that by the cigarette company failing to note the hazards and risks of smoking, the company is suggesting that smoking is a social norm. Thus, the company can be held liable for placing people’s lives at risk, particularly by not pointing out the harms of smoking if the company understands that smoking is harmful and neglects to point out these dangers to society. The Court of Appeals found that Congress ruled there is a balance that is drawn between “warning the public of the hazards of cigarette smoking and protecting the interests of the economy” (LII, 1992, p. 1). The cigarette company had a duty to warn the public, although citizens being warned, had a duty to respond in like turn. This means that if citizens were warned, then they had a choice whether to smoke or not and that the cigarette company could not then be blamed for the actions that citizens took to following that warning.
I have specialized in the field of manufacturing previously. In this regard, employment law has a unique function, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, or OSHA, to protect workers from exposure to unnecessary harm. Thus, the employer must assure for example, that employees working out in the field under certain conditions, where hard hats for example, and have training that is unique to the work an individual is engaged in. Some employees that were welders for example, would wear additional protective garments, including eye shields, to protect their eyes from harm and other debris that may enter while in the field. The employer also had a duty to report any injuries immediately, and on a consistent basis, and to follow up with employees and their physician so that the employer could be monitored, and to assure that all employees were appropriately cared for in the field.
There were also laws regarding hiring employees, to assure that all employees were properly accounted for, and that only employees that were legally citizens or authorized to work in the country could be hired and worked legally within the country. These laws were engaged in to assure that employers were hiring workers appropriately, safely and paying workers according to the laws that governed employment. Still other laws that governed employment included certain laws that governed overtime and how frequently employees could be paid, or which employees could be paid overtime hours (FLSA, 2014. For example, there were differences in whether hourly vs. salaried employees got paid overtime, and how that calculation was entered into employee hour calculations, and whether employees qualified for vacation time, and how workers qualified for taking time off and benefits. Thus, laws govern payment and benefits also, so that employees were treated fairly at work, although not all laws dictated that employers were obligated to offer employees benefits necessarily (FLSA, 2014). However, if an employer did offer employees benefits, then laws were in place to protect employees.