Intermediate Accounting: Reporting...

3rd Edition
James M. Wahlen + 2 others
ISBN: 9781337788281



Intermediate Accounting: Reporting...

3rd Edition
James M. Wahlen + 2 others
ISBN: 9781337788281
Textbook Problem

Ethics and Environmental Damage

Hart Corporation is a chemical company that produces cleaning fluids of different types. It is the main employer in a small town. Stan Hart has been the company president for 15 years and is paid a salary plus a 10% bonus based on pretax income; he is also the major shareholder. After treatment to remove pollutants, Hart has been draining the waste water from its production process into a nearby river for many years. Over the past year (2019), there have been several “fish kills” in the river. At the end of 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a $1 million lawsuit against Hart for violation of pollution control laws.

You are an accountant for the firm that is auditing Hart’s 2019 financial statements. Preliminary calculations show that Hart earned a pretax income of $600,000 for 2019, before considering the effects of the lawsuit. In a discussion with Stan Hart and Bob Brandt, the company’s attorney, you raise the issue of whether or not to report the lawsuit in the company’s 2019 financial Statements. Stan says, “I’ve been president of this company for long enough to know that we didn’t cause the fish kills. It must be something else. Furthermore, I don’t want anything included in the income statement that would jeopardize the company’s well-being. The town depends on us. If we shut-down, the town will die.” Bob replies, “I generally agree with you, but you need to be realistic. I don’t expect the outcome of the lawsuit to be determined for a couple of years. However, there is a pretty good chance the company will lose. If that happens, then there is a 60% chance the loss will be $400,000 and a 40% chance the loss will be $1 million.” Stan replies, “Okay, then let’s put it in a note to the financial statements.”


From a financial reporting and ethical standpoint, prepare a written report that recommends how to account for the lawsuit.

To determine

Draft a report that recommends the ways to account for the lawsuit using ethical standpoint and financial reporting.


According to a financial accounting perspective, this case includes a loss contingency. A loss that is estimated from a loss contingency is accrued and reported as a decrease in the income and if possible, it can be experienced as a liability. When there is a range of possible amounts, and the amount is said to be a best estimate, then this amount would be accrued. If the two conditions are not met and there is a reasonable probable amount of loss incurred, then that may be disclosed in the notes to the financial statements. Consideration must be given to Person S and Person B about the operation of the company and the legal process. Additional information should be collected about the meaning of Person B’s comment that there is a good chance of losing the lawsuit in the future and the amount will be $400,000...

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