April 18, 2008
What do mass tort scholars do in their down time? ... Well, read a mass tort novel, of course. John Grisham's latest book, The Appeal, involves a toxic tort of groundwater pollution that injures many in a Mississippi town -- sort of Grisham thriller meets Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action. The plot steers off into pursuing issues of judicial elections, but along the way there are plenty of mass tort themes, involving David vs. Goliath plaintiff-defendant litigation, class actions, and the implications of a trial verdict for case inventories. I'm in the middle and having fun, as I have reading Grisham since The Firm came out back in the early 90s.
For the last few years, I've been gradually assembling a "mass tort movie library" of DVDs, which I lend out to students in my mass tort litigation class, and I use a clip of the film version of A Civil Action in class. I've been mulling over incorporating excerpts from novels in my class, as well -- Grisham's King of Torts also sounds many mass tort themes. Part of the appeal of studying mass tort litigation is the variety of perspectives available -- not only substantive and procedural, but also factual and fictionalized.
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