Moral Judgment on the Mangano Case
Moral Judgment on the Mangano Case
There are instances when an individual chooses to act in a manner that he or she thinks is right - Moral Judgment on the Mangano Case introduction. There are circumstances, however, when one’s actions lead to events that cause harm to other people. As in the case of Salvador and Mabel Mangano who owned a nursing home, their inability to follow an evacuation plan during the height of Hurricane Katrina lead to the deaths of the elderly trapped in the nursing home. Thus, the Manganos should have been convicted of negligent homicide as a result of their actions.
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Ethics systematize, defend and recommend “concepts of right and wrong behavior” (Fieser, 2006). Ethics is also concerned about the standards by which one’s actions can be evaluated as right or wrong (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, 2008). An individual judges his or her act whether it is right or wrong, based on the moral standards and what the society dictates as right and wrong. However, some people may think that their actions are right or that there are events which are beyond their control. For instance, the event of Hurricane Katrina cannot be controlled, and its causes may be beyond people’s grasp.
Hurricane Katrina flooded much of the New Orleans area, which included St. Bernard Parish. In this area stood St. Rita’s Nursing Home, which was owned and operated by a husband-and-wife team of Salvador and Mabel Mangano (Parker and Konigsmark, 2006). St. Rita’s housed 35 elderly, 34 of whom died during the onslaught of the rising flood waters. The Manganos were each indicted with thirty-four counts of negligent homicide because they did not comply with the obligatory evacuation orders and the nursing home’s own emergency plan (Mead, 2006).
Investigations seeking the truth behind the tragedy found out that despite the mandatory evacuation of residents, the Manganos chose to stay at St. Rita, arguing that the building was made of brick and had a generator in case of emergency and there was available nursing staff present before the hurricane hit. It was also found out that St. Rita’s has an evacuation plan. The question now is, why did the nursing home fail to follow the evacuation plan? Some people contest that there may have been some things which kept St. Rita’s from evacuating. However, if this is so, why did other nursing homes successfully evacuate long before Katrina hit?
Investigations were also trying to find out whether St. Rita’s properly warned the nursing home’s staff regarding the mandatory evacuation. The parish coroner, Bryan Bertucci, recalled that he alerted Mabel Mangano and offered evacuation assistance. However, Mangano declined, saying that they would stay in the building. Bertucci has assumed that even before he called, Mabel has decided to stay because the ambulance was not available to bring the patients to the Superdome. On the contrary, the Manganos’ attorney disputed Bertucci’s offer of evacuation vehicles and warning of the mandatory evacuation (Mead, 2006).
Several media reports indicated that the Manganos did not leave the town during the hurricane and in fact stayed to help in rescuing the patients. Furthermore, reports included that no patient was found strapped to their beds or wheelchairs (Mead, 2006). On the contrary, one news article reported that the defense attorney during the trial argued that the patients were strapped to their beds and were calling for help (Parker, 2007). All things considered, the Manganos made a mistake in thinking that Hurricane Katrina will leave the patients unscathed. Perhaps this was their response because St. Rita’s was located in a higher ground that had not flooded even during the previous hurricanes. Furthermore, the Manganos argued that the levees were the reason why the patients died and not their decision to stay. This is another mistake on the part of the Manganos. As they were faced with a moral dilemma, that is, whether they should evacuate the patients to keep them safe, they did not reflect on the necessary considerations that would tell them whether one act is right or not. This is the principle of the utilitarian view, which appeals to experience to solve the problems of the lack of information associated with evaluating the welfare issues and the consequentialist issues associated with making moral decisions (Mill, 1863).
There were also reports which showed that the Manganos received “ample warnings” with regards to the risk of not evacuating the patients, including television weather forecasts and warnings from the president of St. Bernard Parish regarding the necessity to evacuate. The families of patients who died during the flooding argued that the Manganos made their patients believe that they were to evacuate, only to change their minds (Parker, 2007). Mike Fink, whose mother was a patient at St. Rita’s and survived the flooding, was right in saying that the Manganos have a responsibility in protecting their residents. Thus, they were also accountable to the death of many of them (Parker and Konigsmark, 2006). Their inaction has led to the tragedy that became a symbol of their incompetent preparation and disaster response (Parker, 2007).
The Mangano case is an example of how people are guided by their moral judgments in making decisions. Despite some instances that point to the opposite direction, the Manganos still committed a grave mistake when they did not choose to evacuate their patients, most of whom were very frail and could not help themselves. Salvador and Mabel Mangano should have been convicted of negligent homicide because they ignored the mandatory evacuation that could have saved the lives of the nursing home’s residents. They thought that the building could withstand Hurricane Katrina. Moreover, they did not consider the risks associated by staying behind. They did not weigh which choice between staying behind and evacuating to a safe place would be more beneficial for the residents. As such, their inaction has cost the lives of many people.
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. (2008). Ethics. Answers.com. Retrieved January 27, 2009, from http://www.answers.com/topic/ethics-legal-term
Fieser, J. (2006). Ethics. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved January 27, 2009, from http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/e/ethics.htm#H2
Mead, R. (2006). St. Rita’s and lost causes: Improving nursing home emergency preparedness. Retrieved January 27, 2009, from http://126.96.36.199/search/cache?ei=UTF-8&p=negligent+homicide+%2B+natural+disaster&rd=r1&meta=vc%3Dph&fr=yfp-t-501&fp_ip=PH&u=www.umaryland.edu/healthsecurity/mtf_conference/Documents/Additional%2520Reading/Session%25204/St%2520Rita%27s%2520and%2520Lost%2520Causes.pdf&w=negligent+homicide+natural+disaster+disasters&d=YrCsRg-YSJBM&icp=1&.intl=us
Mill, J.S. (1863). Utilitarianism. Retrieved January 27, 2009, from http://www.utilitarianism.com/mill2.htm
Parker, L. (2007). Louisiana nursing home case puts Katrina response on trial. USA Today. Retrieved January 27, 2009, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-08-08-1Acover_N.htm
Parker, L., and A.R. Konigsmark. (2006). New Orleans nursing homeowners indicted. USA Today. Retrieved January 27, 2009, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-09-20-nursing-home-deaths_x.htm