Law & Order (1990) s12e19 Episode Script


NARRATOR: In the criminal justice system the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups, the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.
These are their stories.
Why you eat that crap? Tastes good.
What's wrong with our pizza? Not for breakfast.
The tomato gives me that acid reflux.
Don't you ever let your mother hear you say that.
Whoa, Pop! What? Oh, dear God.
White male, late teens, early 20s.
Stab wound to the chest, pretty deep.
Time of death? From lividity and body temp, my guess'd be 2:00 to 5:00 this morning.
Any luck with the murder weapon? ESU's still lookin'.
Well, the wallet's gone.
No cash, no ID.
Check out this blood trail.
We also found traces of blood on the sidewalk out front.
So, the guy gets jumped out there Yeah, and dragged back here to rest in peace.
Who found the body? Pizza guys, opening for the day.
So, maybe he came by for a slice.
Well, he got one.
I don't remember him comin' in here, but we do a pretty good business at night.
How late were you open? The last customers trickled in about 1:45.
We locked up by 2:30.
Anybody see or hear anything strange? Nothing strange but the customers.
What do you mean? At that hour? Mostly hookers and hustlers comin' east off the river.
Kills me.
What? SAL SR.
: That These people come in here all strung out.
Neighborhood's had two muggings in the past week.
Some of these guys are wearin' skirts and heels.
I mean, they even use the ladies' room.
So, we're looking for a killer transvestite? Yeah, with a taste for sausage.
We talked to the RIP guys.
There's no word on any dangerous transvestite.
But we did get the fives on the two recent muggings.
Yeah, one of the perps was picked up on a turnstile jump a few days ago.
He's in Rikers.
Well, that's a convincing alibi.
And the other one? Purse snatcher, still at large.
The beat cops are canvassing with his description.
Well, what about our victim? Does he have a name yet? Computers have been down all morning.
Cordova's just running the prints now.
Well, tell me we got something from the crime scene.
Well, according to the Medical Examiner, John Doe was killed with a 6-inch blade, curved and very sharp.
A hunting knife or some kind of tool, maybe.
Got a hit off of BCI.
Victim's name is Andrew Hatcher, but there's no listing of him in the city.
BRISCOE: What was the collar for? It was sealed two years back.
Well, it could be because he was a YO.
There's just a name, date and location of arrest.
Washington Square Park.
Eighth Precinct.
Find out who ran the conditions car that day.
Mostly we'd break up gangs of kids gettin' high.
They got rowdy, we'd toss 'em in the truck.
In my day we called it The Goon Squad.
You recognize this kid? Mmm.
Well, you made the collar.
Your remember anything about it? Andrew Hatcher, October 12th, 2000.
We know it was a while back, but we were hopin' maybe this kid made an impression.
No, not him, the date.
October 12th, Columbus Day.
Is that a big day for you? Student protest at Stuyvesant College.
Five hundred years of American imperialism or some crap.
There's always a few who take it too far.
You know, throw a bottle or somethin'.
So, you sure the protest was that year? Yeah, it happens every year Except for this one, of course.
And these were all college kids? Who else is gonna protest a holiday? Here we go.
Andrew Hatcher, currently a senior.
What about an address? Amherst, Massachusetts.
That must be the parents.
Or it's a hell of a commute.
No New York address? These kids move around so much.
All I have for Hatcher is a PO box at the student union.
What about a class schedule? Journalism 415.
Sociology 305, Group Dynamics.
History 230, Economics and Social Injustice.
Earth Science 307.
Environmental Ethics.
GREEN: How about a class this afternoon? Earth Science lecture's in half an hour.
You want to check that out? See if anybody knows where he lives? If I can sit in the back.
Thank you.
NORTON: Andy's been my roommate for the past six months.
Yeah, we talked to a student who told us Andy had Journalism class yesterday until 3:00.
Did you see him after that? The last time I saw Andy was around 5:00 p.
He was comin', I was goin'.
We talked about seein' this band on Saturday.
We're just tryin' to figure out where he might've gone last night.
He didn't mention anything to me.
Man, none of this seems real.
Is this Andy's stuff? We were gonna switch rooms at the end of the semester.
I'd like to take a look around, see if he left a date book or messages or something.
Sure, go ahead.
We found him in Chelsea near 14th Street.
You know of any places he liked to hang out around there? Uh, any bars maybe.
Andy didn't drink on week nights.
It's more likely he was at the library.
Is this yours or Andy's? Hey, we're homicide, not vice.
Don't worry about it.
But you gotta help us out.
Now, is this recreational or did he sell, or what? We were just buying dime bags for ourselves.
GREEN: Buying them from where? Sometimes 14th near where you said.
But I swear, it was always just dimes.
Did you buy from anybody in particular? You just walk up and down the street and someone shows up.
It's like a different dealer every time.
Lennie, the parents are comin' in.
We're gonna have to take this with us.
I should've called the police.
I knew something was wrong.
Hatcher, can you tell us what happened? Andy called me early this morning but we got cut off.
I kept calling back, but there was no answer.
What time did your son call, Mrs.
Hatcher? A little after 9:00 a.
I picked up the phone, but there was no one there.
What made you think it was him? We have caller ID.
The number was Andy's cell phone.
We didn't find a cell phone with your son's belongings.
Andy never went anywhere without that phone.
This had already happened by 5:00 a.
, so it wasn't Andy that called you.
Then who was it? Hey, according to the cell phone company, there's no way to trace the phone's location with that model.
You get something for me? They didn't have any tofu.
What about the LUDs? Well, we got a few noteworthy phone calls this morning.
First off, we got 9:04 a.
, four seconds long.
The call to Mom.
The guy probably hit redial by mistake.
But check this out Almost an hour later.
Call lasted four minutes, Pretty talkative for a dead guy.
You want half? Mmm-mmm.
ZWYBEL: Nobody called here this morning.
I was at work by 8:00, and my daughter was in school.
Phone records don't lie, Mr.
Well, maybe it was a wrong number or something.
The call lasted almost five minutes.
Somebody was here.
Katie! Were you in school today? Yeah.
You tellin' me the truth? Yeah.
Well, then who was here talkin' on the phone this morning? Okay, I went in late.
I only missed gym.
I swear.
We'll talk about this later.
GREEN: Who called you, Katie? Bobby.
Bobby Foster.
Kid from the neighborhood.
BRISCOE: What'd he say to you? Just that he got a new cell this morning.
Do you know where we can find him? Yeah, he plays ball every day after school at the projects.
Yo, Iverson.
We need to talk.
Yo, but the game Consider yourself benched.
You made a phone call to your friend Katie this morning? Yeah, but I didn't do anything wrong.
Well, then you got nothin' to worry about.
Just tell us where you got the phone.
I bought it.
You bought it? From who? This isn't a game, Bobby.
The kid who owned that phone is dead.
What? Jimmy killed some dude? GREEN: Jimmy who? I don't know.
He's this hustler.
He works on the corner near my school.
He sold me the phone for 5 bucks.
Where is it? My friend Ron told me I was a fool.
He said I'd probably get busted for it.
So, I threw it under a subway after I called Katie.
Where can we find this Jimmy? He hangs out on 12th.
Wears a red leather jacket.
You can't miss him.
What do you want? What you sellin', Jimmy? You lookin' for a date, cop? How much for just a feel? Oh, I guess you take it for free, man.
Oh, this looks like stolen property, Ed.
"To Andy.
Love, Mom and Dad.
" Just once I'd like to make one of you bastards break the news to the parents.
His name's Andrew Hatcher.
You tried to sell him some weed, right? Maybe he didn't like the size of your bags.
You two get into an argument, the next thing know, it was you or him.
The D.
might even reduce the charge to manslaughter, Jimmy, if that's what happened.
I don't sell drugs.
No, you just use 'em, right? I got it under control.
Well, if it wasn't drugs, then what were you doin' with Andy? Nothin' man.
I've never seen this kid before.
Then how'd you wind up with his cell phone? You're not gonna believe me, so what's the point? The point is you got nothin' to lose.
Found it in a dumpster this morning.
(CHUCKLES) You're right.
I don't believe you.
It's where I was hidin' my stash.
There was other stuff in there, too.
What kind of stuff? A wallet.
What'd you do with it? I left it there.
It was all messed up.
What do you mean, messed up? Blood on it.
Man, I didn't want to touch that.
Got diseases.
This from a guy who keeps his stuff in a dumpster.
GREEN: Is this dumpster still there? They only move it once a week.
Let's go.
You sure this is the right one? Yeah.
Look at this.
It's a portable pharmacy.
And a bloody wallet belonging to one Andrew Hatcher.
What's the matter, Jimmy? Didn't even want to take the 8 bucks cash? Look, I told you, I didn't touch it.
Nothin' else in here but sand.
Can I go now? Oh, you're not off the hook that easy, punk.
Cops are searchin' the whole neighborhood now for the murder weapon.
Once they find it, they're gonna check it for your prints.
Why would I show you all this if I killed that kid? Because that stuff doesn't even point the finger at you.
We found something.
Don't need a lab test to tell us that's blood.
With any luck it's the victim's.
Victim's blood, killer's shirt.
This yours? No, that ain't mine.
Can you run this over to the lab? Yeah, we're gonna need a sample from your suspect.
Test for a match on the shirt.
Hair, fibers, blood, everything.
Get ready to open a vein, Jimmy if you got any left.
After excluding a few leaves and some rain water, I ran serology and fiber analysis tests on every square centimeter of the shirt.
Your victim's blood was all over it.
But no match for our suspect? I found a few hair shafts, but they were all gray, not consistent with the suspect.
I guess Jimmy caught a break.
But I did find something significant.
Something significant about the perp, I hope.
Not unless your killer's got hooves.
When I first ran the immunologic test on the samples, I got a non-human antibody response.
I'm thinking you get that a lot.
Well, take a look at this.
Uh, these are magnified microscopic photos of actual red blood cells taken from the samples.
Do you see the large area of central pallor in this one? I see a white spot surrounded by a red spot.
That's a normal human red blood cell.
So, what's the other one? Bovine.
As in cow? Does that mean our killer had steak for dinner? The lab tech says the blood cells were still intact, meaning that the blood was uncooked.
So, the killer handled raw beef.
A butcher? The shirt was found in a sewer at Washington and Gansevoort Streets.
That's right in the heart of the Meatpacking District.
Well, that makes sense.
Besides prostitutes and junkies, meatpackers would be the only activity in the area at 4:00 a.
Hey, do you remember the M.
's profile of the murder weapon? A 6-inch curved blade.
We did some checking.
It's consistent with a butcher's boning knife.
All right, show Hatcher's photo around the meat plants.
Put those sides in the walk-in for now.
Are you the manager? I'm the owner, Arthur King.
Why? Any of you guys seen this man around here? His name's Andrew Hatcher.
Don't recognize him.
Mind if I talk to your workers? Look, we got 10,000 cuts to make this shift.
We'll try to stay out of the way.
Who? Mike Bledsoe.
He worked here two years ago.
You know what he wanted to talk to Bledsoe about? No.
But he said it was important.
I told him Bledsoe lives in Brooklyn somewhere.
How come you didn't want to tell us this in front of your boss? Mr.
King think about only one thing, quota.
BRISCOE: When's the last time you saw the kid in the picture? (SPEAKING SPANISH) He says that Hatcher was here last Wednesday.
When'd you start work? Midnight.
Couple of hours before Hatcher punched out.
De nada.
Sorry, I don't know him.
Take another look, Mr.
His name's Andrew Hatcher.
You may have been the last person to see him alive.
I'm tellin' you, I've never seen him before.
What's this about? This kid was a college student.
He got knifed to death a few days ago in the Meatpacking District.
What's that got to do with me? Some of the workers at Elite Meats said he came in on Wednesday askin' for you.
He said he needed to talk to you about something.
I don't know about what.
So, you're tellin' us you have no idea why this kid would come lookin' for you? Look, someone called me the other night.
I don't know, could've been him.
BRISCOE: Did you talk to him? Left a message on my machine.
I thought it was one of those, uh, solicitation calls, so I never called back.
You still got the message? Think so.
My name's Andrew Hatcher, and I have a few questions I'd like to ask you.
You can reach me at the NYPIRG office at 212-555-0101.
Thank you.
NYPIRG? COREY: New York Public Interest Research Group.
We oversee students interested in public service issues.
Andy was a very proactive volunteer.
You don't think this has something to do with his work here, do you? At this point, we don't really know.
Can you tell us why Andy would visit this meatpacking plant? He was very interested in animal rights.
I didn't realize that they brought livestock into Manhattan.
Elite Meats owns a slaughterhouse upstate.
The carcasses are cut and processed in the Meatpacking District.
What's that got to do with animal rights? It was how they killed and gutted the cows.
Andy was doing research.
GREEN: Are there any files on the work he was doing? Just an expense report.
Looks like he submitted some receipts for some film.
He was taking pictures? I don't know.
But he bought the film at a place called Photofast.
Been ready since Wednesday.
GREEN: We need to take a look at those.
Guy's been in here a couple of times this month.
Usually he picks 'em up right away.
Yeah, he's had a rough week.
Oh, look at this.
It's enough to make me want to take up tofu.
Isn't that Arthur King? Mr.
Elite Meats.
GREEN: Arthur King in the plant.
Arthur King on the loading dock.
Arthur King in blue denim.
All right, watch Miguel.
See how he cuts along the bone? (SPEAKING SPANISH) And remember, fast, fast, fast.
What's goin' on? You're coming with us.
Hey, I got a plant to run here.
That's gonna have to wait.
Well, what's this about? A blue denim shirt.
A lot easier when they don't fight back, huh? Andrew Hatcher, the college kid who was nosin' around your plant.
The one you said you don't remember seeing.
I didn't.
He was killed with a boning knife, the same kind you use at your plant.
Oh, everybody in the meat business uses that kind of knife.
Everybody in the meat business wear these? Some of that blood belongs to the kid you filleted.
You recognize the shirt? No.
BRISCOE: A picture's worth a thousand words.
What's the matter? You look like you're about to have a cow.
It's not my shirt.
GREEN: You know, that's funny, because one of your cutters said that you finished the night wearing just a T-shirt.
Is it because you ditched that? BRISCOE: We're havin' a warm winter, Artie, but it's not that warm.
Look, am I under arrest, or what? Good question.
Anything other than the photograph tying King to the shirt? Well, the fiber analysis says there's a 75% chance the hair strands on it came from King.
What about the DNA? The hair follicle has to be intact for them to make a comparison.
These are only hair shafts.
I suppose there's no chance of finding the murder weapon.
Well, he probably brought it back to the plant.
Any blood on it would be mixed with That's a pleasant thought.
Do you want us to release him or book him? Arrest him.
Can we get an indictment? Well, we've got enough circumstantial evidence to establish probable cause.
I figured the arrest buys us time to find something more concrete.
Where are we on motive? The victim was a college student.
It seems like he was looking into the possibilities of animal rights violations at King's plant.
What type of violations? Something to do with how they were killing their cows, handling the carcasses.
So, King murders him? Pretty lean.
Apparently Hatcher was about to make contact with a Michael Bledsoe right when he was killed.
Bledsoe worked at King's plant about two years back.
What could this Bledsoe have to say that would be worth killing over? He wasn't exactly forthcoming with Briscoe and Green.
But Briscoe and Green couldn't drop a subpoena on him.
I already told those detectives I never met the kid.
Then what is it you think he wanted to talk to you about, Mr.
Bledsoe? I have no idea.
Well, the police seem to think you might.
Did it have anything to do with the slaughter practices at your old job? If I never talked to him, I wouldn't know, would I? Well, the people at Elite gave him your name.
Why would they do that? Ask them.
I'm asking you.
And if I have to ask you again, it'll be in front of a grand jury.
Ask me anywhere you want, but I can't talk about Elite.
You'd be under subpoena.
I don't know what that means.
All I know is the lawyer said if I talk I could lose my pension.
What lawyer? The one who had me sign the confidentiality agreement.
You signed a confidentiality agreement when you left Elite? Just speak to the lawyer, okay? What's the lawyer's name? I don't know.
Some guy who works for AgriStar Enterprises.
If he didn't work for Elite, why did he have you sign Look, miss, you gotta talk to the lawyer, or else subpoena me or whatever.
But I'm not riskin' my pension here, okay? Jim Dittmar, AgriStar's corporate counsel.
And this is Bill Talbot, our CEO.
Happy to help any way we can.
You said on the phone this concerned Elite Meats? Well, my office is investigating a murder we believe may have been committed by one of its employees.
Murder? I'm sorry, this relates to us in what way? We know Elite Meats is one of your food suppliers, and one of their former employees told me that your company had him sign a confidentiality agreement.
DITTMAR: Who's the employee? Michael Bledsoe.
I recognize the name.
The agreement was part of a litigation settlement.
AgriStar was in litigation with Elite Meats? Same side of the table.
We were co-defendants.
What were you being sued for? It was Elite who got sued.
Plaintiffs dragged us in as a deep pocket.
On what claim? I'm sorry.
We'd like to help, but the confidentiality agreement that binds Elite and the plaintiffs binds us as well.
And I can certainly appreciate that, but this is now a homicide investigation.
And it's possible a murder was committed to cover up something that Elite was doing.
And what is it you think Elite was involved in? Right now, our best information is that there may have been some animal rights violations at the plant.
Well, without violating confidentiality, I can assure you that the lawsuit had nothing to do with animal rights violations.
Then what was it about? I don't know.
The litigation records were sealed by the court.
Well, if the lawsuit wasn't about animal rights, Bledsoe ought to be able to talk to us about animal rights.
So, either he was just being uncooperative or we need to adjust our motive theory.
Only one way to find out.
Find a witness who didn't sign a confidentiality agreement.
How about a meat inspector from the USDA? Maybe they can tell us what was going on at King's plant.
Well, slaughtering infractions were something we investigated initially.
Initially? Unfortunately, what we found was something far more serious.
What do you mean? What do you know about E.
coli? It's a bacteria that can cause serious infections.
Sometimes it infects the cow's gut.
If the gut is then handled improperly, there's a potential for a pretty dangerous contamination.
Is that what was happening at Elite? If the gutting's done properly, the spill rate's less than half a percent.
We put Elite's at 20%.
But there wasn't anything we could do about it at the time.
What do you mean? You're the USDA.
At most, we can pull our inspectors and seals of approval if we think a plant is contaminating meat.
You can't just shut the plant down? We've tried shutting plants down, but the courts just keep ruling against us.
Who informs the public? It's not that simple.
Our response depends on the severity of the problem.
We can't sound the alarm for every case of food poisoning.
These companies would be sued by anyone with a stomach ache.
colt's a little more severe than a stomach ache.
Of course it is.
But I don't want you to get the wrong impression.
Elite was just one problem company in an otherwise very responsible industry.
So much for making brisket this weekend.
Well, the USDA thinks half of Elite's livestock was infected with E.
coli but says they couldn't do anything about it.
Half? They were improperly gutting one out of every five cows.
So, ground up, one cow can contaminate Well, why didn't the USDA or CDC demand a recall? Well, the USDA doesn't have the authority, and the CDC only finds out if the company tells them or if the problem is widespread.
Makes you wonder why we even have a USDA.
So, obviously this kid Hatcher was onto something far more serious than a few animal rights violations.
Well, I imagine news of an E.
coli outbreak at King's plant would cost him his business.
Only the person who might be able to answer these questions thinks he's bound by a confidentiality agreement.
An agreement that covers up the lawsuit against Elite and AgriStar.
If Elite was contaminating beef, you can bet that's why they got sued.
And why King killed Hatcher.
He was afraid he'd blow the whistle on whatever's in the pages of that lawsuit.
Most judges aren't going to like us looking to try and violate the privacy of rights of civil litigants.
Find one who will.
I thought this was a criminal case.
Why are you seeking discovery of a civil lawsuit? JACK: We believe that the lawsuit may contain evidence relating to the defendant's motive.
Kevin Roth for Arthur King and Elite Meats, Your Honor.
McCoy's on a fishing expedition.
I concur, Your Honor.
Jim Dittmar, counsel to AgriStar Enterprises.
AgriStar is a party to the confidentiality agreements Mr.
McCoy is looking to vitiate.
It's the only way we can get access to evidence which may be material to our case.
The key word being "may".
You've got no evidence to justify violating a valid nondisclosure agreement.
How can we when the nondisclosure is the very thing that's frustrating our investigation? The agreement is unenforceable if it frustrates the pursuit of justice.
It's black letter law, Your Honor.
A contract contrary to the public good is unenforceable no matter how many people wish it wasn't.
I want to look at the documents.
DITTMAR: Your Honor How can I determine if the People's motion has any merit unless I see what we're fighting over? Don't worry, Mr.
Dittmar, I'm a steak and potatoes man.
Special delivery from Judge Grady.
I guess the court's reading of the documents was different than Mr.
Elizabeth Lawrence et al.
Elite Meats Incorporated and AgriStar Enterprises.
Elite was the Manhattan area supplier of beef patties to Big Bill's.
The fast food chain? AgriStar was more than just a deep pocket in this.
It owns Big Bill's.
According to the complaint, Big Bill's patrons were getting E.
coli infections.
So, Hatcher was onto something.
After one of the customers got sick their lawyer looked for other cases, but AgriStar pulled out all the stops to force a settlement.
List of affected customers.
Beth Lawrence, age five.
Emily Miller, age four.
Michael Foranda, age three.
Lisa Santos, age three.
Benjamin Davies, age four.
Jack, the plaintiffs' claim was for wrongful death.
These children are all dead.
Five children dead.
How? They died of organ failure after contracting E.
It was in the beef Elite sold to AgriStar's subsidiary, Big Bill's.
It's a fast food chain.
I eat at Big Bill's.
You do? They have the best fries.
It's amazing that AgriStar was able to cover this up.
Why wouldn't the plaintiffs blow the whistle? I mean, why would somebody whose child got sick keep quiet? As a negotiating tactic.
The parents sue for compensation, not publicity, but the threat gives them leverage.
Once they settled, the confidentiality agreements make sure everything got swept under the rug.
Only Andy Hatcher's investigation threatened to bring it back up and drive King out of business.
Not just Arthur King.
AgriStar was the one who put up the confidentiality smoke screen, and its CEO misled Serena when she asked what its connection was to Hatcher's investigation.
He was protecting his wallet.
Still, it doesn't prove Talbot had something to do with Hatcher's death.
Well, maybe not Hatcher.
But what about those five children? Right now, we have nothing to show that AgriStar's business practices were anything other than completely legal.
Why not? Because the USDA tells us so? They've already admitted they either don't have the teeth to do the job or they're unwilling to use them.
If they're not going to do something about this, I will.
Doing the USDA's job seems a bit off target.
I'm not talking about doing their job.
I'm talking about doing our job.
According to this, AgriStar knew Elite was giving them tainted food.
Second degree manslaughter.
Talbot was guilty of reckless disregard.
And how do you plan to show causation? I don't.
That's your job.
Jack, you've already prosecuted gun manufacturers, drug companies, HMOs.
And I'm the one resisting.
That should tell you something.
I don't think you'd be resisting if Arthur King told you that Talbot was the one responsible.
You want to see if we can flip Arthur King? ROTH: You're wasting your time.
My client's not interested in pleading when all you've got is a circumstantial case.
We're not here on the Hatcher murder.
Then you're really wasting your time.
That's the only crime he's charged with.
So far.
What's she talking about? Your client's culpability in the death of five children.
For what? For selling infected meat to AgriStar with reckless disregard for the consequences.
Fortunately for you, Mr.
King, my boss is more interested in knowing whether Bill Talbot knew that's what you were doing.
ROTH: You won't charge him on the five kids if he testifies against Talbot? If he knows enough for us to build a case against him.
And if he pleads man one on the Hatcher murder.
He can give you AgriStar.
But you'll have to do better.
I can go as far as man two, but I want to hear what he knows before I finalize any deal.
Two years ago, we were cuttin' corners just to make delivery.
Talbot knew, but he didn't care.
Not as long as we met our quota.
Then those kids died, we get sued.
Suddenly everybody's concerned about safety.
Bill Talbot knew that your beef was being exposed to E.
coli? Yes.
I told him we had to cut corners to meet quota.
Plus, he was gettin' the same reports I was.
He knew that E.
coli wasn't there for flavor.
What about Hatcher? Talbot was tipped by somebody that the kid was nosin' around.
He said he was some kind of activist lookin' to shut down the plant.
So, I started keepin' my eyes open.
One night, I m workin He's there takin' pictures, so I followed him.
I just wanted to get the film from him.
That's all I was gonna do.
I mean, I put 30 years into Elite, you know? But he wouldn't give me the pictures.
He starts yellin' at me instead, sayin' that I'm poisoning people.
So, I took out my knife, just to scare him so he'd give me the pictures.
I don't even know how it happened.
He was just yellin', and I was scared.
Scared I was gonna lose everything.
After it happened I took his things, tossed the camera in the Hudson.
All my life, I never thought I could do anything like this.
(CRYING) TALBOT: The Big Bill Junior Playland is an interactive playground for the 21st century.
We project that by the end of 2004, the Big Bill's franchises in each of the major markets will have one.
This point-of-sale destination will help cement AgriStar's relationship with the GREEN: William Talbot, you're under arrest for second degree manslaughter Gentlemen, if you have a problem, my secretary Elizabeth Lawrence.
Arrest? Benjamin Davies.
Michael Foranda.
There must be a mistake.
Lisa Santos and Emily Miller.
I want my attorney.
Want fries with that? This is a witch hunt.
It's vindictive prosecution.
JACK: If you thought you could convince a jury of that, you wouldn't be here.
The only reason we're here is to stop this runaway train you've started.
SOUTHERLYN: You said on the phone you had an offer.
You dismiss the indictment, and in exchange, AgriStar will disclose the safety measures we've already undertaken and promise to implement new ones, which we can negotiate.
Thank you for your time.
At least consider the offer.
There is nothing to consider.
Five children are dead.
I had nothing to do with that.
Bill No, I want to say this.
I am not the villain here.
I refused to do business with King unless he cleaned up his act.
But only after five people died.
We serve millions of people a day.
This was five cases.
Five children, killed by your product.
Not killed, counselor.
They got sick.
Look, let's get practical for a minute.
If what your boss is looking for is safer food, our offer guarantees that.
Your offer is a list of promises with no means of assuring that you won't loophole your way out of them the first chance you get.
And it's rejected.
Two years ago, our quota was 10,000 pounds a day.
But sometimes a truck's late, a grinder breaks.
We've gotta make up that time.
So, knives don't get cleaned after gutting, spills from the gut table don't get wiped up as carefully.
And as a result, could E.
coli co-mingle with the meat? Well, when you've got a quota, you don't waste.
Not the pieces from the gut table or the pieces that drop on the floor.
To your knowledge, was the defendant aware of these conditions at your plant? Yeah.
I delivered short on one shipment.
Talbot chewed me out over it.
I told him I couldn't meet his quota without cuttin' corners.
JACK: Cutting corners? Health and safety.
I told him about spill rates and how E.
coli was gettin' into the meat.
And I told him what we had to do to keep things clean.
JACK: And what was his response? He said it was my problem, and if I didn't meet quota, he'd go elsewhere.
I'm barely breakin' even.
If he pulled his business, I'd lose mine.
Talbot never told you to sacrifice health and safety to meet quota, did he? How else did he think I was gonna do it? Add more workers? Expand the plant? I told him that sacrificing safety was the only way.
What about increasing efficiency? I've been in this business been the same.
Faster, faster, faster.
Anything else is a pipe dream.
HUTCHINS: Well, if 10,000 pounds a week wasn't feasible, you never should have made the contract in the first place.
Right? You're currently serving a prison sentence for homicide, aren't you? Objection.
HUTCHINS: Goes to credibility.
Only you received a lesser sentence in exchange for your testimony against Mr.
Talbot, didn't you? I'm tellin' the truth.
The truth is that you're blaming my client for your mistakes.
TALBOT: Big Bill's is a family restaurant.
Two-thirds of our fast food employees are under the age of 20.
Over 25 million children walk into our restaurants every month.
We serve 10 million burgers to kids a week.
The suggestion that we're a company that kills children is ludicrous.
And yet there is a statistical association between the deaths of five children and your company.
And when I learned about it I was devastated.
But you're talking about a statistical association, not direct proof.
Look, King may have had his problems, but today his plant is clean because I got it cleaned.
Not the USDA, not the CDC.
HUTCHINS: How? By refusing to do business with King unless he cleaned up his act.
Well, you're aware that Mr.
King says that you forced him to break the law.
TALBOT: Well, that doesn't make any sense.
My company is his customer.
Why would I pay good money for a product that wasn't of the highest quality? Nothing further.
Arthur King testified under oath that you knew he was supplying a diseased product.
Was he lying? His version of events doesn't include when we found out.
As I said, as soon as we knew there was a problem, we refused to do business with them until they fixed it.
And this discovery just happened to coincide with the deaths of these five children? Objection.
These kids caught an infection.
God only knows from what.
I don't know about God, Mr.
Talbot, but to me, it's no coincidence that each of these five children died within hours of eating your product.
My product is food, a living thing.
And with living things disease is a fact of life.
Children can catch E.
coli from petting animals.
Why aren't you putting the Bronx Zoo on trial? In a zoo, the danger to children is kept in a cage.
I don't believe that the food that my company sold made those children sick.
Then why settle with their parents? Objection.
Evidence of out-of-court settlements is inadmissible.
Not if it's being used to impeach the defendant's statement.
You put it in play, Mr.
Answer the question.
It wasn't an admission of guilt, Mr.
We settled because it was cheaper to do so than to go to trial.
Just as it was cheaper to purchase tainted food than to take steps to make sure that it was safe.
JUDGE: That's sustained.
Actually, I'd like to answer.
I run a business, Mr.
Everybody likes a perfect product.
But if it's too expensive or inconvenient, no one buys it.
The airlines could hand search every passenger on every flight, but the delays would put them out of business.
Cars could be made as safe as tanks.
But how many people could afford a car that costs as much as a house? Risk-return analysis isn't reckless.
It's responsible business.
So, is keeping your customers alive.
Half the jury looked like they were about to choke on Talbot's risk-return argument.
Even though it's really a valid response.
The law doesn't require companies to adopt safety standards that'd price them out of business.
There's no cost-benefit analysis that justifies children dying.
Still, there are limits to corporate responsibility even in the case of children.
Whether or not the jury buys Talbot's argument, it's still his word against King's.
King's a blue collar felon, while Talbot's a captain of industry.
He's made his career out of spin control and creating a kid-friendly corporate image.
Well, maybe it's time to leverage that image against them.
Out of the mouths of babes.
I imagine our original offer is looking pretty good right about now.
The only offer we would consider at this point would have to include jail time.
Have we been sitting in the same courtroom? 'Cause our case has been going pretty well for us so far.
"So far" being the operative term.
What are you talking about? We can still call witnesses to rebut your client's risk-reward argument.
Oh, I doubt this jury will be impressed by some USDA inspector or a hired gun economist.
I'm not talking about an expert.
This is Roberta Miller.
JACK: Her name might ring a bell.
Your company paid her $1 million to settle her wrongful death claim.
What the hell is this? Do you want to hear what she'll say in court? That my daughter got E.
coli from one of your hamburgers.
That it attacked her heart and kidneys, just shut them down.
She was only four years old.
Can they do this? A judge will never let it happen.
Your client opened the door.
He argued that adequate safety was too expensive given the risk.
Miller will testify to the consequences of ignoring that risk.
We have four other witnesses in addition to Mrs.
Five distraught parents before a media-packed courtroom, if not a jury.
This might be a good time for another risk-reward analysis.
Forget it.
This is blackmail.
Let's at least hear them out.
I am not going to jail.
Jail's not the only thing you have to worry about, Bill.
Well, if you're talking about publicity, AgriStar can spin this.
There's no way you can spin five distraught parents, Mr.
(WHISPERING) (SOFTLY) Don't forget about your family.
(INAUDIBLE) I assume you'll allow him to allocute in chambers? I'll talk to my boss.
Criminally negligent homicide.
Two years for each child.
And 10 times that in the court of public opinion.
Then why'd you let him plead guilty in chambers? Board rooms have great acoustics.
Believe me, the people I was talking to heard us loud and clear.
Talbot's own board wasted no time distancing themselves from him.
Now he'll find out what it's like at the bottom of the food chain.

Previous EpisodeNext Episode