TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Friday, May 14, 2010

Personal Injury Roundup No. 76 (5/14/2010)

Graduation here at Western New England is just a week away.  Congratulations to graduates here and across the country!

Reform, Legislation, Policy

New Lawsuits

  • Lord Jesus Christ hit by car in my little town of Northampton, Mass.; says he thinks it was an accident but has a lawyer anyway.  (
  • Media hears "Starbucks" and "hot beverage" in the same sentence, writes a story evoking Stella Liebeck and calls it a day.  (Turkewitz)


  • $500 million in punitive damages to pharmaceutical companies for plaintiffs getting hepatitis C due to reuse of vials; allegation is, I guess, that the vials the pharma companies used were too big and thus encouraged (?) reuse.  (Google/APDaily Finance
  • Family of eight-year-old killed by negligently installed and inspected carnival ride will receive no compensation on top of roughly $2 million already received (

May 14, 2010 in Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Baker on Insurance Research

Tom Baker (Penn) has posted to SSRN Insurance in Sociolegal ResearchThe abstract provides:

Insurance has a long history in socio-legal research, most prominently as a window on accident compensation and related tort law in action. Recent work has extended that research, with the result that tort law in action may be the best mapped of any legal field outside criminal law. Sociological research has begun to explore insurance as a form of governance, with effects in many legal fields and across the economy. This essay reviews developments in both bodies of work. Part one examines the relationship between liability insurance and tort law in action using the metaphors of window and frame. Part two reviews research on insurance as governance. The conclusion returns to insurance as governance in the context of liability insurance, arguing that this is an especially promising field for socio-legal research.


May 13, 2010 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Zipursky on Philip Morris

Benjamin Zipursky (Fordham) has posted to SSRN Punitive Damages After Philiph Morris USA v. Williams.  The abstract provides:

Philip Morris USA v. Williams has struck some commentators as hypertechnical, but it is in fact among the Court’s most significant pronouncements on the topic of punitive damages. At its center is the “Nonparty Harm Rule”: it is a violation of due process for a court to permit a jury in a tort case to use punitive damages to punish a defendant for harming persons who are not parties in the litigation. The holding is difficult to understand because the Court simultaneously stated that it is permissible to augment a punitive damages award in light of a defendant’s heightened reprehensibility and it is permissible to infer heightened reprehensibility from the numerosity of the persons injured by defendant’s conduct, including nonparties. It is surprising because it appears to sound more in process, while prior cases have focused on the magnitude of the award. For both of these reasons, it is challenging to lower courts, who must craft jury instructions implementing Williams’ mandate. This article tackles all three problems. At a theoretical level, it utilizes civil recourse theory and my prior theory of punitive damages to explain and justify the nonparty harm rule along with the possibility of augmenting punitives for reprehensibility. At an interpretive level, it conjectures that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito wish to retain the Court’s punitive damages doctrine, but are more attracted to versions of constitutional punitive damages law that are visibly distinct from substantive due process. And at a practical level, it reviews several jurisdictions proposed jury instructions, post-Williams, and identifies those approaches to jury instruction that are most defensible.

(Via Solum/Legal Theory Blog)


May 12, 2010 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Reader Survey - Please Respond!

As we plan our programming for next year, we are very interested in your feedback on the blog.

UPDATE:   We fixed the survey.  Please click here to take the survey. 

Thank you!


May 11, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Our Thanks to the Spring 2010 Guest Bloggers

We really enjoyed hosting our Spring 2010 guest bloggers.  Our guests explored a wide array of topics: 

Thanks to everyone who participated this spring.  Guest Blogger Monday will return in the Fall.

- Sheila & Chris 

May 10, 2010 in Guest Blogger | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)