June 16, 2011
Bumper Cars Bump, Lawsuit Ensues
I've been posting a bit more on my amusement park safety blog, MassTort.org, in the last few months, and this week a California intermediate appellate court decision caught my attention. In it, the court concluded that assumption of risk didn't apply to at least some injuries in the amusement ride context, and that there were factual issues precluding summary judgment.
Both the majority and dissenting decisions are well worth a read, exploring as they do the expansion and contraction of no-duty rules, the concept of perceived risk in the amusement ride context, and Batman. (Really.)
June 15, 2011
Two by McClellan
Frank McClellan (Temple) has posted several of his older pieces to SSRN. First, The Dark Side of Tort Reform: Searching for Racial Justice. The abstract provides:
While few who have urged tort reform have recognized racism as one of the principal barriers to social justice, this article claims it is essential to discuss race discrimination in order to have true tort reform and to address the problems inherent in the tort doctrine. The article emphasizes the race issue impacts every aspect of a tort claim and adversely affects lawyers, clients, and the public view on justice. Pretending race has nothing to do with tort law or utilizing a colorblind approach only reinforces inequality within the system. Stories of people of color, in addition to what empirical studies of judgments and verdicts are available, shed some light on the serious problems within the tort system with regards to racial justice albeit only scratching the surface. The article concludes by suggesting some tort reform measures that could ease the pain of participants in the tort system.
Second, Medical Malpractice Law, Morality, and the Culture Wars: A Critical Assessment of the Tort Reform Movement. The abstract provides:
Tort reform emerged as a major issue in the culture wars during the 2004 presidential election and continues to be a heavily debated issue today. While a community’s sense of social justice should dictate the values used to assess and shape tort law, different communities have widely varying perspectives of social justice. This article reflects on the potential impact of the culture wars on medical malpractice law and litigation and emphasizes the most critical criteria for assessing medical malpractice reform is how well the legal system protects, affirms, and restores the human dignity of both patients and health care providers. The article reasons there is not a one-size fits all medical malpractice tort system, and in order to prioritize human dignity, it is essential to take into account the cultural, social, and religious diversity within America and shift the focus from economic to dignitary priorities. Finally, the article discusses the profound health care consequences of illiteracy and low health literacy.
June 13, 2011
Alabama Passes Tort Reform Measures
According to the Sand Mountain Reporter, Alabama enacted several tort reform measures last week, though the substance of these reforms is very unclear from the article:
Gov. Robert Bentley signed a package on Thursday that included four bills on tort reform. The legislation is the first of its kind in 14 years. Republican Rep. Wes Long of Guntersville sponsored one of the four bills in the package. Labeled the Alabama Small business Protection Act, Long’s bill will allow retailers and distributors of products to be dismissed from lawsuits dealing with design and manufacturing of the products.
For example, Long said a pharmacy selling a medication that comes under litigation could be excused from the case “if they prove they didn’t touch it.” Under the former law, the pharmacy would be required to stay in the case until it is resolved, he said.
The other reform bills in the package work to make sure lawsuits stay in the correct venue and keep frivolous lawsuits at bay.