TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Friday, May 27, 2011

Personal Injury Roundup No. 105 (5/27/11)

New Cases

  • NC:  Plaintiff opens argument in dental malpractice claim alleging the dentist pulled too many teeth.  (The Herald-Sun)



Reform, Legislation, Policy

  • Somin on Federalism and Tort Reform (VC)
  • Frank on Somin on Federalism and Tort Reform (Point of Law)
  • Olson on Federalism and Tort Reform (Overlawyered)
  • Bernabe on ATRA's Defense of Tort Reform (Torts)
  • TX:  Senate unanimously passes "loser pays" bill.  (Texas Tribune)
  • WI:  The state dipped into a med mal fund for the general revenue, now Republican lawmakers want to pay it back.  (Green Bay Press Gazette)
  • Med mal cases in freefall  (The Pop Tort)



May 27, 2011 in Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Are Congress's Med Mal Reform Efforts Unconstitutional?

That's Walter Olson's provocative question, echoing Georgetown's Randy Barnett's op-ed.  Much of tort law is, of course, fundamentally a state law issue, and -- the argument goes -- the powers granted to Congress just aren't broad enough to capture pretty big parts of tort law, including its applicability to medical malpractice litigation.


May 26, 2011 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

AALS Torts and Compensation Section Newsletter Solicitation

Request for information for Torts and Compensation Section Newsletter: The AALS Torts and Compensation Section each year produces a newsletter listing: (1) torts symposia published in the last year, (2) upcoming torts symposia, (3) recent torts law review articles (U.S.) (4) selected torts articles from Commonwealth Countries, (5) books.  The process of compiling the newsletter is now underway.  If you know of material that should be included, please forward the relevant citations and other information to Professor Jennifer Wriggins, Sumner T. Bernstein Professor of Law, University of Maine School of Law,  The deadline for inclusion is August 15, 2011.  The newsletter will be issued in fall 2011.  

May 25, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Nominations for the 2012 Prosser Award

The Torts and Compensation Systems section of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) is soliciting nominations for the William L. Prosser Award for 2012.  The award "recognize[s] outstanding contributions of law teachers in scholarship, teaching and service in ... torts and compensation systems ...."   The three most recent distinguished recipients are Honorable Guido Calabresi, Oscar Gray, and Dan Dobbs.  Past recipients also include luminaries such as Leon Green, Wex Malone, and John Wade.

Any law professor is eligible to nominate another law professor for the award.  Nominators can renew past nominations by resubmitting past nominations in a timely manner.  Selection of the recipient will be made by members of the Executive Committee of the Torts and Compensation Systems Section, based on the recommendation of a special selection committee.  The announcement of the award will be made at the annual AALS meeting in January, 2012.   

Nominations, accompanied by a brief supporting statement (required), should be submitted to Prof. Jennifer Wriggins, Secretary, AALS Torts and Compensation Section, either by regular mail or e-mail at  Nominations must be received no later than 5 pm eastern time (U.S.) on Tuesday, July 5, 2011.  E-mail submissions at are preferred.   If you prefer to mail the nominations, please send them to the address below:

Prof. Jennifer Wriggins

Sumner T. Bernstein Professor of Law

University of Maine School of Law

246 Deering Avenue

Portland, ME 04102


May 25, 2011 in TortsProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Abraham on Insurance and Oil Spills

Ken Abraham (Virginia) has posted to SSRN Catastrophic Oil Spills and the Problem of Insurance.  The abstract provides:

The BP oil spill of 2010 focused considerable attention on the operating conduct of BP, on the potential liability of BP and other entities associated with the Spill, and on the Fund that BP established to provide compensation to victims of the Spill. Much less attention has been paid, however, to the nature and scope of insurance covering losses caused by catastrophic environmental disasters such as oil spills. BP’s establishment of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, and the compensation that will be paid by that facility, are likely to dampen awareness of these mismatches. What might otherwise been a very dramatic demonstration of the ways in which our insurance and liability systems fall short in such situations will probably be much more muted. Future spills, however, may not follow this pattern. Understanding the structure of insurance and liability that are and are not available when spills occur is therefore critical to developing satisfactory approaches to dealing with the consequences of spills.

This Article identifies the matches, and mismatches, between the losses resulting from oil spills, the insurance available to the victims of spills, the liability of the parties responsible for losses caused by spills, and the insurance available to the parties who face such liability. The Article then attempts to make sense of the situation it has identified, considering three explanations for the mismatches: difficulties associated with proving the cause of pure economic loss, traditional challenges to the insurance of pollution loss and liability, and pre-existing portfolio diversification by potential spill defendants that discourages the purchase of large amounts of insurance. Finally, the Article critically analyzes two proposals that have been made for remedying the insurance mismatches in this field: the imposition of an ex ante drillers’ tax on the amount of their potential liability in excess of their combined assets and liability insurance, and the imposition of mandatory liability insurance requirements far in excess of the amounts of insurance that are currently available or purchased.


May 25, 2011 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

SC of IL: No Social Host Liability for Underage Drinking Despite Voluntary Undertaking Argument

Late last week, the Supreme Court of Illinois denied liability in a social host case for underage drinking.  Plaintiff's decedent, age 18, attended a party at defendants' house.  He was a friend of the defendants' son, who was hosting the party.  Plaintiff's decedent allegedly consumed alcohol at the party.  Shortly after leaving the house, he died in an automobile accident.  The interesting doctrinal angle is the allegation that the defendants made a voluntary undertaking to supervise the party and prohibit drinking.  The Restatement (Second) on voluntary undertaking is discussed in detail.  The case is available here.

Thanks to Mark Weber (DePaul) for the tip.


May 25, 2011 in Current Affairs, Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Supreme Court Preview - Call for Papers

Charleston Law ReviewThe Charleston Law Review invites submissions for its annual Supreme Court Preview volume.  This year’s Preview will feature a foreword by Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of California Irvine School of Law.  The 2009 Supreme Court Preview volume was cited by Justice Clarence Thomas in his concurring opinion in FCC v. Fox Television Stations Inc., 129 S. Ct. 1800 (2009). 

We welcome an article or essay addressing a case before the Court in its October 2011 Term, or in the alternative, addressing an aspect of the Court itself such as recent voting trends, case load, an analysis of a particular Justice, or any other topic related to the Supreme Court. 

The Supreme Court Preview is published to coincide with the opening of the October 2011 Term.  We therefore ask that work be submitted no later than August 1, 2011.  Submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning June 1, 2011.  Please direct submissions and any questions about our Supreme Court Preview to Mollie Brunworth, Editor in Chief, via email at mgbrunworth [at]


May 24, 2011 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Professor of the Year

Congratulations to TortsProf's own Chris Robinette, who was voted "Professor of the Year" by the Class of 2011 at yesterday's commencement at Widener Harrisburg.  Having observed Chris's teaching when we both were at Temple together, I can attest to his skill and dedication in the classroom.   It is a well deserved honor. 


May 23, 2011 in TortsProfs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)