TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Friday, March 9, 2012

Philly Asbestos Verdict Challenged

The Legal Intelligencer reports on a variety of issues raised by the plaintiffs in a post-trial motion challenging a defense verdict in Webber v. Ford Motor Co.   In particular, plaintiffs' counsel alleges that the verdict form was the result of ex parte contact by defense lawyers and the supervising judges in Philadelphia's Mass Torts Program.

Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the alert.


March 9, 2012 in Current Affairs, Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Med Mal Study: Poor Are Less Likely to Sue

Frank McClellan (Temple) has co-authored a study finding that the poor are not as likely to sue in medical malpractice as other socio-economic groups. 


March 8, 2012 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Simons on the Purpose/Knowledge Distinction and the NFL Bounty Issue

Over at Prawfs, Ken Simons is posting on the purpose/knowledge distinction and its role in the NFL bounty issue. 


March 7, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Abraham on Four Conceptions of Insurance

Ken Abraham (Virginia) has posted to SSRN Four Conceptions of Insurance, a paper extending the analysis he made in a guest post at TortsProf.  The abstract provides:

This Article, awarded the 2011-12 Liberty Mutual Prize by Boston College Law School, identifies four different conceptions of insurance that have operated in the debates about insurance and insurance law in recent decades, analyzes these conceptions, and examines the normative agendas that drive them. These are the contract, public utility-regulated industry, product, and governance conceptions. Although these conceptions adopt very different perspectives, each is a way of struggling with the two fundamental questions that modern insurance law has continually faced. The first question involves the extent to which the language of an insurance policy should determine its legal effect. This is the insurance law version of the age-old question of the validity of one-sided provisions in contracts of adhesion. Because virtually all insurance policies, including high-end corporate insurance policies, are standard-forms, it is a question at the core, not the periphery, of insurance law. The second question involves the proper influence of what are sometimes called “public law” values on the scope of private insurance coverage. This is a version of the question with which much of modern private law struggles. To what extent should private law be about doing justice between two contracting parties, and to what extent should it also be concerned with other, more nearly public law matters, such as the impact of litigation outcomes on the future behavior of other parties, or equal treatment of similarly-situated policyholders?

Ultimately, the Article argues, adopting a particular conception of insurance is no substitute for making or rejecting the normative choices that each conception entails. It is not our concepts, but our political, economic, and social values that underlie and underwrite legal doctrines and practices. Nonetheless, sometimes we do not see through our conceptual structures but instead are led around by them. This is part of what is taking place in the contests among different conceptions of insurance. In such circumstances it takes the kind of critical analysis this Article undertakes in order to expose the normative agendas that are doing the actual work within each conceptual structure.



March 6, 2012 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 5, 2012

AALS Torts & Compensation Section: Prosser Award Nominations; Solicitation of News

Andy Klein (Indiana-Indianapolis), the Secretary of the Section, posts the following:

Dear Colleagues,

Greetings!  In my capacity as secretary of the AALS Torts & Compensation Systems section, I am writing to pass along two important notices.

1. Torts and Compensation Section Newsletter

As most of you know, our section publishes a newsletter each fall listing: (1) Symposia related to tort law; (2) recent law review articles on tort law; (3) selected articles from Commonwealth countries on tort law; and (4) books relating to tort law.  We are now beginning the process of compiling material for this year’s newsletter.  If you know of anything that should be included, please forward relevant citations and other information to me at  The deadline for inclusion is August 15, 2012.  

2.  Prosser Award 

This is the first call for nominations for the 2013 William L. Prosser Award.  The award "recognize[s] outstanding contributions of law teachers in scholarship, teaching and service in ... torts and compensation systems ... ."   Recent recipients are Richard Posner, Guido Calabresi, Oscar Gray, and Dan Dobbs.  Past recipients include scholars 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 materials.  Selection of the recipient will be made by members of the Executive Committee of the Torts & 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, 2013.   

Nominations must be accompanied by a brief supporting statement and should be submitted no later than July 2, 2012.   E-mail submissions to are preferred.   If you would rather mail hard copies of nomination materials, please use the address in the signature line below. 

Our committee will send additional reminders about both the newsletter and the Prosser Award as the deadlines approach.  In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.



Andrew R. Klein

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

(317) 274-2099

March 5, 2012 in Scholarship, TortsProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Farewell

For over six years, I've been contributing to the TortsProf blog.  (Really!  Here's my first post, back when I was the only contributor, making a sorta snarky observation about tort reform.) 

In the years since then, I've posted about countless issues, ranging from amusement park safety to confidentiality in mass torts to the actual provenance of asbestos websites.  In 2007, Chris and Sheila joined the blog, bringing a broad range of valuable content to the site, and, in 2009, when I became associate dean at Western New England, my blogging slowed (though it didn't quite stop).  Thanks to them, the blog has remained current and a reliable source of information for academics and practitioners alike.

It's been a great experience.  My blogging influenced my scholarship, it resulted in many press appearances (including providing [but not serving as] the punchline to a New York Times piece), it was fun, and it kept me connected to the real world of litigation.

And it is to that real world of litigation that I am returning.  Starting in August, I will be joining the Austin office of Bowman & Brooke as senior counsel.  Bowman & Brooke is a terrific Minnesota-based firm that focuses largely on products liability work, and I'll get to spend some time working out of their Minnesota office during summers.  Since I will no longer be a TortsProf, I will, naturally, no longer be posting here.  I may still be posting at; we'll figure that out at some point.

It has been a tough decision.  I have loved teaching at Western New England, and my family and I adore the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts.  But I have decided that legal education is no longer the business for me.  I am excited for the next professional challenge, and to be much nearer my family.  And for good tacos.

So: Thank you to Paul Caron and Joe Hodnicki, thanks to Chris and Sheila, and most of all, thanks to all of you, the readers.  Hearing from you -- even (especially!) when you disagreed -- was a genuine highlight of our endeavor.  You made me think harder.  If you find yourself in Austin, get in touch and I'll buy you a taco.  My permanent e-mail address is


March 5, 2012 in TortsProfs Moves | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Shapo: An Injury Law Constitution

Marshall Shapo (Northwestern) recently published his latest book, An Injury Law Constitution:

An Injury Law Constitution presents a novel thesis that embraces leading features of the American law of injuries. The book argues that the body of law that Americans have developed concerning responsibility for injuries and prevention of injuries has some of the qualities of a constitution--a fundamental set of principles that govern relations between human persons and between individual persons and corporate and governmental institutions. The historical frame reaches back to Aristotle and goes forward to European human rights law. In the modern American legal environment, this “injury law constitution” includes tort law, legislative compensation systems like workers compensation, and the many statutes that regulate safety of activities and of products including drugs, medical devices, automobile design, and pesticides. The work weaves the history of these systems of law into an analysis that it links to the unique compensation plan devised for the victims of the September 11th attacks. The book examines how our injury law constitution reflects deeply held views in U.S. society on risk and injury, indicating how it provides a guide to the question of what it means to be an American.

Oxford University Press, 2012, 312 pages; 6-1/8 x 9-1/4; ISBN13: 978-0-19-989636-3ISBN10: 0-19-989636-4

A PDF summary of the book is here:Download ILC summary.single[1]


March 4, 2012 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)