Over the past century, tort law and insurance have developed deeply intertwined legal and economic roots. Insurance usually determines whether tort cases are brought to trial, whom plaintiffs sue, how much they claim, who provides the defense, how the case gets litigated, the dynamics of the settlement, and how much plaintiffs ultimately recover. But to what extent should liability rules be influenced by insurance? In this study, Mark Rahdert identifies the leading arguments both in favor of and against what he terms the "insurance rationale"—the idea that tort law should be structured to facilitate victim access to assured compensation.
The insurance rationale has been a leading force in the development of product liability law and, as a component of accident compensation, has significantly influenced pro-plaintiff advances in principal areas of tort law. However, the insurance rationale is also the source of great controversy. Critics charge that liability rules deliberately set to maximize plaintiffs' access to insurance funds have corrupted the system, causing insurance costs to spiral upward uncontrollably. Considering the strengths and weaknesses of both sides of the current debate, Rahdert develops a modified version of the insurance rationale that can become a tool for evaluating future tort reform proposals.
In recent years, stories of reckless lawyers and greedy citizens have given the legal system, and victims in general, a bad name. Many Americans have come to believe that we live in the land of the litigious, where frivolous lawsuits and absurdly high settlements reign.
Scholars have argued for years that this common view of the depraved ruin of our civil legal system is a myth, but their research and statistics rarely make the news. William Haltom and Michael McCann here persuasively show how popularized distorted understandings of tort litigation (or tort tales) have been perpetuated by the mass media and reform proponents. Distorting the Law lays bare how media coverage has sensationalized lawsuits and sympathetically portrayed corporate interests, supporting big business and reinforcing negative stereotypes of law practices.
Based on extensive interviews, nearly two decades of newspaper coverage, and in-depth studies of the McDonald's coffee case and tobacco litigation, Distorting the Law offers a compelling analysis of the presumed litigation crisis, the campaign for tort law reform, and the crucial role the media play in this process.
This study identifies the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other personal characteristics needed in individuals who will be responsible for implementing strategic diversity plans in the Department of Defense (DoD). The authors interviewed more than 60 diversity leaders in industry, the public sector (including DoD), and academia and reviewed relevant scientific literature, education programs, and advertised job requirements.
Accident law, if properly designed, is capable of reducing the incidence of mishaps by making people act more cautiously. Scholarly writing on this branch of law traditionally has been concerned with examining the law for consistency with felt notions of right and duty. Since the 1960s, however, a group of legal scholars and economists have focused on identifying the effects of accident law on people's behavior. Steven Shavell's book is the definitive synthesis of research to date in this new field.
Declared dead some twenty-five years ago, the idea of freedom of contract has enjoyed a remarkable intellectual revival. In The Fall and Rise of Freedom of Contract leading scholars in the fields of contract law and law-and-economics analyze the new interest in bargaining freedom. The 1970s was a decade of regulatory triumphalism in North America, marked by a surge in consumer, securities, and environmental regulation. Legal scholars predicted the “death of contract” and its replacement by regulation and reliance-based theories of liability. Instead, we have witnessed the reemergence of free bargaining norms. This revival can be attributed to the rise of law-and-economics, which laid bare the intellectual failure of anticontractarian theories. Scholars in this school note that consumers are not as helpless as they have been made out to be, and that intrusive legal rules meant ostensibly to help them often leave them worse off. Contract law principles have also been very robust in areas far afield from traditional contract law, and the essays in this volume consider how free bargaining rights might reasonably be extended in tort, property, land-use planning, bankruptcy, and divorce and family law. This book will be of particular interest to legal scholars and specialists in contract law. Economics and public policy planners will also be challenged by its novel arguments.
Contributors. Gregory S. Alexander, Margaret F. Brinig, F. H. Buckley, Robert Cooter, Steven J. Eagle, Robert C. Ellickson, Richard A. Epstein, William A. Fischel, Michael Klausner, Bruce H. Kobayashi, Geoffrey P. Miller, Timothy J. Muris, Robert H. Nelson, Eric A. Posner, Robert K. Rasmussen, Larry E. Ribstein, Roberta Romano, Paul H. Rubin, Alan Schwartz, Elizabeth S. Scott, Robert E. Scott, Michael J. Trebilcock
The traditional definition of torts involves bizarre, idiosyncratic events where a single plaintiff with a physical impairment sues the specific defendant he believes to have wrongfully caused that malady. Yet public attention has focused increasingly on mass personal-injury lawsuits over asbestos, cigarettes, guns, the diet drug fen-phen, breast implants, and, most recently, Vioxx. Richard A. Nagareda’s Mass Torts in a World of Settlement is the first attempt to analyze the lawyer’s role in this world of high-stakes, multibillion-dollar litigation.
These mass settlements, Nagareda argues, have transformed the legal system so acutely that rival teams of lawyers operate as sophisticated governing powers rather than litigators. His controversial solution is the replacement of the existing tort system with a private administrative framework to address both current and future claims. This book is a must-read for concerned citizens, policymakers, lawyers, investors, and executives grappling with the changing face of mass torts.
Why do Americans seem to sue at the slightest provocation? The answer may surprise you: we don’t! For every “Whiplash Charlie” who sees a car accident as a chance to make millions, for every McDonald’s customer to pursue a claim over a too-hot cup of coffee, many more Americans suffer injuries but make no claims against those responsible or their insurance companies. The question is not why Americans sue but why we don’t sue more often, and the answer can be found in how we think about injury and personal responsibility.
With this book, David M. Engel demolishes the myth that America is a litigious society. The sobering reality is that the vast majority of injury victims—more than nine out of ten—rely on their own resources, family and friends, and government programs to cover their losses. When real people experience serious injuries, they don’t respond as rational actors. Trauma and pain disrupt their thoughts, and potential claims are discouraged by negative stereotypes that pervade American television and popular culture. (Think Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, who keeps a box of neck braces in his office to help clients exaggerate their injuries.) Cultural norms make preventable injuries appear inevitable—or the victim’s fault. We’re taught to accept setbacks stoically and not blame someone else. But this tendency to “lump it” doesn’t just hurt the victims; it hurts us all. As politicians continue to push reforms that miss the real problem, we risk losing these claims as a way to quickly identify unsafe products and practices. Because injuries disproportionately fall on people with fewer resources, the existing framework creates a social underclass whose needs must be met by government programs all citizens shoulder while shielding those who cause the harm.
It’s time for America to have a more responsible, blame-free discussion about injuries and the law. With The Myth of the Litigious Society, Engel takes readers clearly and powerfully through what we really know about injury victims and concludes with recommendations for how we might improve the situation.
Arthur Ripstein Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress K923.R57 2016 | Dewey Decimal 346.03
Tort law recognizes the many ways one person wrongs another. Arthur Ripstein brings coherence to torts’ diversity in a philosophically grounded, analytically powerful theory. He shows that all torts violate the basic moral idea that each person is in charge of his or her own person and property, and never in charge of another’s person or property.
John C. P. Goldberg Harvard University Press, 2020 Library of Congress KF1250.G649 2020 | Dewey Decimal 346.7303
Two preeminent legal scholars explain what tort law is all about and why it matters, and describe their own view of tort’s philosophical basis: civil recourse theory.
Tort law is badly misunderstood. In the popular imagination, it is “Robin Hood” law. Law professors, meanwhile, mostly dismiss it as an archaic, inefficient way to compensate victims and incentivize safety precautions. In Recognizing Wrongs, John Goldberg and Benjamin Zipursky explain the distinctive and important role that tort law plays in our legal system: it defines injurious wrongs and provides victims with the power to respond to those wrongs civilly.
Tort law rests on a basic and powerful ideal: a person who has been mistreated by another in a manner that the law forbids is entitled to an avenue of civil recourse against the wrongdoer. Through tort law, government fulfills its political obligation to provide this law of wrongs and redress. In Recognizing Wrongs, Goldberg and Zipursky systematically explain how their “civil recourse” conception makes sense of tort doctrine and captures the ways in which the law of torts contributes to the maintenance of a just polity.
Recognizing Wrongs aims to unseat both the leading philosophical theory of tort law—corrective justice theory—and the approaches favored by the law-and-economics movement. It also sheds new light on central figures of American jurisprudence, including former Supreme Court Justices Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and Benjamin Cardozo. In the process, it addresses hotly contested contemporary issues in the law of damages, defamation, malpractice, mass torts, and products liability.
"Mass tort litigation against the gun industry, with its practical weaknesses, successes, and goals, provides the framework for this collection of thoughtful essays by leading social scientists, lawyers, and academics. . . . These informed analyses reveal the complexities that make the debate so difficult to resolve. . . . Suing the Gun Industry masterfully reveals the many details contributing to the intractability of the gun debate."
-New York Law Journal
"Second Amendment advocate or gun-control fanatic, all Americans who care about freedom need to read Suing the Gun Industry."
-Bob Barr, Member of Congress, 1995-2003, and Twenty-First Century Liberties Chair for Freedom and Privacy, American Conservative Union
"The source for anyone interested in a balanced analysis of the lawsuits against the gun industry."
-David Hemenway, Professor of Health Policy & Director, Harvard Injury Control Research Center Harvard School of Public Health Health Policy and Management Department, author of Private Guns, Public Health
"Highly readable, comprehensive, well-balanced. It contains everything you need to know, and on all sides, about the wave of lawsuits against U.S. gun manufacturers."
-James B. Jacobs, Warren E. Burger Professor of Law and author of Can Gun Control Work?
"In Suing the Gun Industry, Timothy Lytton has assembled some of the leading scholars and advocates, both pro and con, to analyze this fascinating effort to circumvent the well-known political obstacles to more effective gun control. This fine book offers a briefing on both the substance and the legal process of this wave of lawsuits, together with a better understanding of the future prospects for this type of litigation vis-à-vis other industries."
-Philip J. Cook, Duke University
"An interesting collection, generally representing the center of the gun-control debate, with considerable variation in focus, objectivity, and political realism."
-Paul Blackman, retired pro-gun criminologist and advocate
Gun litigation deserves a closer look amid the lessons learned from decades of legal action against the makers of asbestos, Agent Orange, silicone breast implants, and tobacco products, among others.
Suing the Gun Industry collects the diverse and often conflicting opinions of an outstanding cast of specialists in law, public health, public policy, and criminology and distills them into a complete picture of the intricacies of gun litigation and its repercussions for gun control.
Using multiple perspectives, Suing the Gun Industry scrutinizes legal action against the gun industry. Such a broad approach highlights the role of this litigation within two larger controversies: one over government efforts to reduce gun violence, and the other over the use of mass torts to regulate unpopular industries.
Readers will find Suing the Gun Industry a timely and accessible picture of these complex and controversial issues.
Brannon P. Denning
Howard M. Erichson
Thomas O. Farrish
Dan M. Kahan
Don B. Kates
Timothy D. Lytton
Julie Samia Mair
Richard A. Nagareda
Peter H. Schuck
Stephen D. Sugarman
"The topic, how tort law evolved over time into a system that allowed, for a moment at least, a parens patriae form of massive litigation against corporations, is exceedingly interesting and important. Gifford's treatment of this topic is highly informative, engaging, insightful, very current, and wise."
---David Owen, Carolina Distinguished Professor of Law, and Director of Tort Law Studies, University of South Carolina
In Suing the Tobacco and Lead Pigment Industries, legal scholar Donald G. Gifford recounts the transformation of tort litigation in response to the challenge posed by victims of 21st-century public health crises who seek compensation from the product manufacturers. Class action litigation promised a strategy for documenting collective harm, but an increasingly conservative judicial and political climate limited this strategy. Then, in 1995, Mississippi attorney general Mike Moore initiated a parens patriae action on behalf of the state against cigarette manufacturers. Forty-five other states soon filed public product liability actions, seeking both compensation for the funds spent on public health crises and the regulation of harmful products.
Gifford finds that courts, through their refusal to expand traditional tort claims, have resisted litigation as a solution to product-caused public health problems. Even if the government were to prevail, the remedy in such litigation is unlikely to be effective. Gifford warns, furthermore, that by shifting the powers to regulate products and to remediate public health problems from the legislature to the state attorney general, parens patriae litigation raises concerns about the appropriate allocation of powers among the branches of government.
Donald G. Gifford is the Edward M. Robertson Research Professor of Law at the University of Maryland School of Law.
In Torts: Doctrine and Process, Donald H. Beskind and Doriane Lambelet Coleman draw on their experience as academics and practitioners to offer a rigorous first-year course that covers intentional torts, negligence, and strict liability, and that meets the highest intellectual and analytical capabilities of today’s law students. Modeling the sophisticated modern practice setting, the cases and materials are designed primarily for extraction learning: their doctrinal context is clear, but the rules are generally derived from careful reading and analysis. This doctrinal approach frames classroom discussions about topical issues in the law and normative, economic, and theoretical arguments about rule choices and legal strategy. The text is also designed to build students’ legal method skills, including honing their abilities to synthesize disparate material, to develop and distinguish between argument and evidence, and to work at the juncture of the substantive “black letter” law of torts and the rules of civil procedure that govern the litigation process. The principal materials are complemented by “notes and questions” and “problems” based on past exams, together providing the basis for this focused introduction to torts and to the law generally.
For more than two decades, the law and economics movement has been one of the most influential and controversial schools of thought in American jurisprudence. In this authoritative intellectual history, James R. Hackney Jr. situates the modern law and economics movement within the trajectory of American jurisprudence from the early days of the Republic to the present. Hackney is particularly interested in the claims of objectivity or empiricism asserted by proponents of law and economics. He argues that the incorporation of economic analysis into legal decision making is not an inherently objective enterprise. Rather, law and economics often cloaks ideological determinations—particularly regarding the distribution of wealth—under the cover of science.
Hackney demonstrates how legal-economic thought has been affected by the prevailing philosophical ideas about objectivity, which have in turn evolved in response to groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Thus Hackney’s narrative is a history not only of law and economics but also of select strands of philosophy and science. He traces forward from the seventeenth-century the interaction of legal thinking and economic analysis with ideas about the attainability of certitude. The principal legal-economic theories Hackney examines are those that emerged from classical legal thought, legal realism, law and neoclassical economics, and critical legal studies. He links these theories respectively to formalism, pragmatism, the analytic turn, and neopragmatism/postmodernism, and he explains how each of these schools of philosophical thought was influenced by specific scientific discoveries: Newtonian physics, Darwin’s theory of evolution, Einstein’s theories of relativity, and quantum mechanics. Under Cover of Science challenges claims that the contemporary law and economics movement is an objective endeavor by historicizing ideas about certitude and empiricism and their relation to legal-economic thought.
In recent years critics have assailed the cost, inefficiency, and unfairness of American tort law, including products liability and medical malpractice. Yet victims of accidental injury who look to the tort system for deserved compensation often find it a formidable obstacle. Those who seek to reform tort law find legislatures, particularly the United States Congress, paralyzed by the clash of powerful special interest groups.
Understanding Enterprise Liability sheds new light on the raging tort reform debate by challenging its fundamental assumptions. Offering historical insights and fresh perspectives on the politics and possibilities for sensible reform, Virginia Nolan and Edmund Ursin pragmatically assess alternative routes to a workable, balanced, and equitable system of compensation for personal injury. They offer a specific proposal, based on the precedent of strict products liability that incorporates the insights of no-fault compensation plan scholarship to create an enterprise liability doctrine that should appeal to courts and to tort reformers.