Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
436 Mass. 443 (2001)
Thomas Levesque (defendant) and Julie Ann Barnes (defendant) (collectively Defendants) lived on the second floor of the vacant five-story Worcester Cold Storage warehouse. Because the Defendants’ living space had no electricity, they frequently used flashlights, candles, and a heater for light and warmth. During an altercation one evening, the Defendants knocked over a lit candle and a fire started. Defendants unsuccessfully tried to put the fire out, which spread rapidly until everything in the room began to burn. Defendants left their belongings and pets and exited the warehouse but did not report the fire even though they had a number of opportunities to do so. Two hours later, a passerby reported the fire. After arriving at the scene, firefighters were informed that there may be persons inside the warehouse and, instead of fighting the fire, went into the building in search of individuals. During the search, six fire fighters were killed. Defendants were each charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter by a grand jury. Thereafter, Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the charges on the grounds that they had no legal duty to report the fire and that their failure to act did not satisfy the wanton and reckless standard of conduct required for involuntary manslaughter charges. The motion judge agreed and granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the charges. The Commonwealth appealed and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court granted direct appellate review.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Cowin, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 240,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,200 briefs, keyed to 189 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.