TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Friday, December 23, 2011

Santa & Elves Guilty of Negligence in U.K.

From Andrew Dickinson at the University of Sydney comes news of Santa's legal troubles:

On December 14, 2011, the London Civil Court of Appeal in Ducasse v Melbry Events held that Santa and/or one of his Elves had been negligent in failing to spot an icicle on the floor of his workshop over which the plaintiff grandmother tripped, causing a leg injury. The grandmother was visiting Santa's workshop at the London store, Selfridges's, with her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.

Neil Foster (Newcastle) sent the following link regarding the case.

Happy Holidays to all!


December 23, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Insurance Fraud in Rhyme

Yesterday the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania released an insurance fraud opinion authored by Justice Eakin, who disposed of the case in rhyme.  Here's a taste of Commonwealth v. Goodson:

In January, 2001, appellant’s car was in a collision.

His insurer totaled the aging New Yorker, then made a just division

of the value of the insurance claim, sending $6,289 to the lender;

the balance of $135, to appellant they made tender.

And thus the matter terminated, or so one might have thought,

but that was not to be, when Goodson’s later schemes were caught.

The entire opinion (pdf) is here.

Thanks to Alexander Langan, my former student and current Justice Eakin clerk, for the tip.


December 22, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hylton on Third-Party Financed Litigation

Keith Hylton (Boston University) has posted to SSRN The Economics of Third-Party Financed Litigation.  The abstract provides:

This paper examines the law and economics of third-party financed litigation. I explore the conditions under which a system of third-party financiers and litigators can enhance social welfare, and the conditions under which it is likely to reduce social welfare. Among the applications I consider are the sale of legal rights (such as contingent tort claims) to insurers, to patent trolls, and to financiers generally.


December 21, 2011 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Calnan: Four Quandaries for Civil Recourse Theory

Alan Calnan (Southwestern) offers the following post on civil recourse theory:

At the upcoming AALS conference, the Torts and Compensation Section will host a panel discussion on civil recourse theory entitled: Twenty-First Century Tort Theories: A New Audit of Civil Recourse Theory. In short, civil recourse theory holds that Torts is a system of constitutionally mandated (due process) rights permitting victims to sue for remedies to rectify legal wrongs. Although the proponents of this theory have elaborated its features in copious detail, they have yet to address several questions essential to its sustainability. Four questions, in particular, create especially troublesome quandaries. I pose these quandaries below in the hope of stimulating thought and discussion at January’s conference.

  1. How can civil recourse theory be viewed as an accurate, complete, and unified description of tort law when it ignores both the numerous instrumental (nonwrongs-based) theories of strict liability, and the pervasive instrumental (nonwrongs-based) considerations actively shaping and transforming wrongs-based theories like negligence?
  2. How can the right to sue (take recourse) in tort be premised on the existence of a legal wrong if (1) the determination of a legal wrong typically is not made until long after the action is filed, and (2) often (in at least 50% of tried cases) results in a finding that no wrong in fact was done?
  3. How can tort law best be understood as empowering victims to rectify civil wrongs (as stated in the panel summary) when the very purpose of both the law’s substance (which specifies things the plaintiff MUST prove to rectify a wrong) and its procedure (which specifies things the plaintiff MUST do to pursue such rectification) is to create impediments for the party seeking recourse and protections for the party being sued?
  4. How does the “constitutional” right to civil recourse square with the historic due process right to protect citizens from arbitrary state action, including presumably the state’s action of taking sides in a private dispute by hosting and facilitating one party’s unproven, liberty-infringing (civil) attack against another?


December 21, 2011 in Conferences, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bloom & Davies Review Measure of Injury

Anne Bloom and Julie Davies (University of the Pacific) review Martha Chamallas's and Jenny Wriggins's book, The Measure of Injury in this SSRN posting.


December 20, 2011 in Books, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 19, 2011

McDonald's & Tort Law

Professor Caroline Forell has posted “McTorts: The Social and Legal Impact of McDonald’s Role in Tort Suits" on SSRN.  The abstract provides:

McDonald’s is everywhere. With more than 32,000 restaurants around the world, its Golden Arches and “Mc” conjure up both the good and the bad about American capitalism. 

This article looks at McDonald’s, impact on public policy, and tort law from historical and social psychology perspectives, following McDonald’s from its beginnings in the mid-1950’s through today. By examining McDonald’s Corp. v. Steel and Morris (McLibel), Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants (Hot Coffee), and Pelman v. McDonald’s Corp. (Childhood Obesity), I demonstrate that certain tort cases involving McDonald’s have had particularly important social and legal consequences that I attribute to McDonald’s special influence over the human psyche, beginning in childhood. In explaining McDonald’s extraordinary power over the public imagination and how this affects lawsuits involving it, I rely on the social psychology approach called situationism that recognizes the strong effect that environmental influences can have on individual decision-making. I conclude that lawsuits involving McDonald’s have had and will continue to have important social and legal consequences because of the unique role this corporation plays in our lives.

Thanks to The Situationist for the alert.


December 19, 2011 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)