Oscar Madison is a midlevel manager at Henderson Aircraft Company, the manufacturer of a new, sophisticated military helicopter that has been in development since the early 1990s. The project has been plagued with problems. After the first 12 helicopters were delivered to the U.S. Army, two crashed. The remaining 10 were grounded until it could be determined what caused the crashes. This was not the first instance when a mechanical or design problem interfered with the deployment of these aircraft. Henderson Aircraft employs nearly 4,700 workers and is the largest employer in Big Bend, Kansas, and the surrounding region.
3 days after the helicopters were grounded, Sean O’Grady, a reporter for the Big Bend Bulletin, received a call from Madison who said he wanted to talk with the reporter. At the meeting, Madison told O’Grady that he would tell him what was wrong with the new helicopters in exchange for a promise not to reveal his identity. Madison said he was a loyal employee of Henderson Aircraft, but that this helicopter seemed to have 1 problem after another. Someday soon, Madison said, a pilot is going to be killed because of the faulty design. Madison said that his 23-year-old son is a U.S. Army helicopter pilot, and that he was fearful that his son might end up flying one of these defective aircraft. After O’Grady agreed to protect Madison’s identity, the manager revealed that the problem in the aircraft was a substandard rotor blade. Madison said that the company bought the blades from an unlicensed and disreputable manufacturer that uses cheaper metal in fabricating the rotor blades. Henderson Aircraft was trying to save money by buying the cheaper blades because development costs for the helicopter were higher than they expected.
O’Grady told his editor about Madison’s allegations and was assigned to write the story. Late in the day, Big Bend Bulletinpublisher, Kate Jackson, heard about the story and immediately ordered the editor to not write the story. She explained that Henderson Aircraft would be seriously harmed by the story and that the company is too important to the local economy for theBulletin to publish the story. A story like the one Madison told O’Grady would anger Henderson Aircraft, its employees, and many readers who rely on the Henderson payroll to keep their own businesses going, Jackson said. The editor and O’Grady protested. After a discussion, Jackson agreed to publish a modified version of O’Grady’s story. She insisted that the source of the allegations about the rotor blades be named in the story. She said O’Grady must also point out that Oscar Madison is only a midlevel manager at Henderson, someone who might not really understand what is going on. Jackson said she believed this would lower the credibility of the news report and make it easier for Henderson to deny the allegations. Faced with no story or with using the name of the source, O’Grady agreed to name his source.
Following publication of the story, a spokesperson at Henderson denied that there was any problem with the rotor blades. A week later, the company fired Oscar Madison, ostensibly because of an unfavorable annual evaluation. Madison, who has a large mortgage, 2 children in college, and other financial obligations, sued the Bulletin for revealing his name after promising not to.
Write a 525- to 700-word response that addresses the following questions about the case study:
- What type of lawsuit would Oscar Madison most likely file?
- What will Madison have to prove to the court to win his case?
- Is it likely that Madison will win? Explain your answer.
Cite references to support your assignment.
Format your assignment according to APA guidelines.
Submit your assignment.
Adapted from “Chapter 10: Protection of News Source/Contempt Power” by McGraw-Hill Education, 2018. Copyright 2018 by McGraw-Hill Education. Reprinted with permission.