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October 6, 2006

Toxic Torts

Carl Cranor, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, has a new book out, entitled "Toxic Torts: Science, Law and the Possibility of Justice."  The description from the publisher, Cambridge University Press, follows:

The U.S. tort, or personal injury law, cloaked behind increased judicial review of science, is changing before our eyes, except we cannot see it. U.S. Supreme Court decisions beginning with Daubert v. Merrell-Dow Pharmaceutical altered how courts review scientific testimony and its foundation in the law. The complexity of both science and the law mask the overall social consequences of these decisions. Yet they are too important to remain hidden. Mistaken reviews of scientific evidence can decrease citizen access to the law, increase incentives for firms not to test their products, lower deterrence for wrongful conduct and harmful products, and decrease the possibility of justice for citizens injured by toxic substances. Even if courts review evidence well, greater judicial scrutiny increases litigation costs and attorney screening of clients, and decreases citizens’ access to the law. This book introduces these issues, reveals the relationships that can deny citizens just restitution for harms suffered, and shows how justice can be enhanced in toxic tort cases.

Although I don't agree with many of the conclusions Carl reaches (I am a bigger Daubert enthusiast than he is -- though I share many of his political inclinations), his analysis is always informed and sophisticated.  His arguments are strong, if not always persuasive; but they are always worth listening to.
--- DLF

October 6, 2006 | Permalink


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