TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Monday's Guest Blogger: Robert Rabin

Robert L. Rabin is the A. Calder Mackay Professor of Law at Stanford.  An expert on torts and legislative compensation schemes, Robert Rabin is highly regarded for his extensive knowledge of the history and institutional dynamics of accident law. He is a prolific author on issues relating to the functions of the tort system and alternative regulatory schemes and is the co-editor of a classic casebook on tort law.

Professor Rabin is currently an advisor to the ongoing American Law Institute Restatement of Torts Third project and has been the program director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program on Tobacco Policy Research and Evaluation, as well as a reporter for the American Law Institute Project on Compensation and Liability for Product and Process Injuries and the American Bar Association Action Commission to Improve the Tort Liability System. He has been a member of the Stanford Law School faculty since 1970.

May 14, 2011 in Guest Blogger | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Personal Injury Roundup No. 103 (5/13/11)

Apologies for the lack of a roundup last week -- the twin thrills of drafting finals and a faculty retreat got in the way.

New Cases

  • Defamation suit against Above the Law for suggesting an attorney had been accused of sexual assault multiple times rather than just once.  (
  • Another suit names the Vatican in sex abuse claims.  (NBC Chicago)
  • Chinese gymnast sues a wide range of people for her paralysis in the 1998 Goodwill Games.  (AP)
  • A mystery celebrity is being sued for allegedly exposing a partner to herpes.  (, and, just so we can link to it, TMZ.)

Trials, Settlements and Other Ends

  • Plaintiff hurt on the land of an abandoned amusement park now owns it.  Lucky (?) him.  (

Reform, Legislation, Policy

  • House committee approves legislation that would, in med mal cases, cap non-economic and punitive damages, allow collateral source evidence, and impose a sliding scale for attorneys' fees.  (



  • Not related to torts in any way, but this is, indeed, the greatest NYTimes correction of all time.  (Gothamist)
  • Only related to torts in that it has to do with correlation and causation, but it's funny.  (


May 13, 2011 in Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pella Class Action Certified

A federal appellate panel in Chicago has upheld the certification of a class action against Pella, a manufacturer of windows, based on allegations of a design defect leading to rotting wood around the windows.  One of the issues was how to handle consumers who have not yet suffered economic loss.  The plaintiffs' counsel:

came up with a novel solution that persuaded U.S. District Judge James Zagel. He separated the window buyers into two classes: Consumers ...who have suffered economic loss, and a larger, nationwide group of those who haven't. But instead of seeking compensation for the latter class, he asked the judge to void Pella's 10-year warranty, pay for window inspections and other "declaratory" relief. The latter class would be allowed to file individual claims with Pella once rot was detected.

Consumer class actions are typically not in our wheelhouse, but the Chicago Tribune article quotes Sheila:

"This is an interesting twist in consumer fraud cases," said Sheila Scheuerman, an associate law professor at the Charleston School of Law who specializes in class actions. "Courts have been fairly hostile to classes where there are no injuries. But litigation always evolves to adapt to restrictions."

Full coverage from the Tribune is available here.


May 12, 2011 in Damages, MDLs and Class Actions | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Good Expert = Fact Issue

Or so goes the argument at Abnormal Use, addressing a case in which savvy expert selection probably got the plaintiffs past an otherwise-likely summary judgment.

(Incidentally, you should be reading Abnormal Use if you're doing anything connected to products liability.)


May 12, 2011 in Experts & Science, Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Favorite Student Comment on My Exam Style

Yesterday as one of my 1L's was preparing to take my Torts II exam, he shared a comment from one of my former students:

"Robinette doesn't hide the ball.  He dumps you into a ball pit and laughs."


May 11, 2011 in Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

4th Circuit Hears Arguments Today on Health Care Law

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit hears arguments this morning in two cases challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care reform law.   In Virginia v. Sebelius (E.D. Va.), Judge Henry Hudson struck down the individual mandate.  While in Liberty University v. Geitner (W.D. Va.), Judge Norman Moon upheld the health insurance requirement and granted the defendants' motion to dismiss. 

More from ABA Journal and the New York Times.

UPDATE:   The panel was comprised of Judges Motz, Davis and Wynn.  Here's the link to the oral arguments.

Thanks to William Gaskill for the update.


May 10, 2011 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Loser Pays Bill Passes Texas House

The Texas House passed a "loser pays" reform bill during a heated session last week.  

Coverage abounds:  Houston Chronicle, YNN, UPI.


May 9, 2011 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)