TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Friday, July 13, 2012

Podcast of 2012 AALS Panel on Civil Recourse Theory

I posted this earlier, but it was not directly accessible.  I tried again yesterday, but the time to upload the file was far too long.  I think I have fixed the problem.  In order, the speakers are Mike Rustad, John Goldberg, Ben Zipursky, Guido Calabresi, Martha Chamallas, and me.


July 13, 2012 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Culhane Advises Penn State on the Civil Side of Sandusky

John Culhane (Widener) has a piece in Slate advising Penn State how to handle the civil aspects of the Sandusky scandal based on an analogy to the BP oil spill.


July 11, 2012 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Send the Torts Section Your News

Andy Klein, of the Torts & Compensation Systems Section's Executive Committee, passes on the following:

This is a second call for information to be included in the annual newsletter of the AALS section on Torts & Compensation Systems.   As noted in a previous message, our newsletter lists:  (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 continuing to compile 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.  The newsletter will be distributed in October.


July 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Green & Powers Win John G. Fleming Memorial Prize for Torts Scholarship

Professors Michael D. Green (Wake Forest) and William C. Powers Jr. (Texas) have been announced as the 2012 co-winners of the John G. Fleming Memorial Prize for Torts Scholarship.  They will jointly deliver the second Fleming Lecture at Berkeley Law on November 5.   Professors Green and Powers are being honored for, among other things, their outstanding work as American Law Institute co-reporters for two core portions of the Restatement (Third) of Torts.

Berkeley Law Professor John Fleming was among the world’s leading comparative tort law scholars and long-time editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Comparative Law.  When he passed away in 1998, two books were published in his honor and proceeds were used to create the Fleming Prize, which is awarded every other year to a tort law scholar from any country.   The Fleming family later endowed the Fleming Lecture.  Bob Rabin (Stanford), the previous winner of the prize, delivered the first Fleming Lecture.

Professor Stephen Sugarman (Berkeley) can provide more details about this fall’s Fleming Lecture.  Congratulations!


July 10, 2012 in Conferences, Roundup, Scholarship, TortsProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Two by Sebok

Tony Sebok (Cardozo) has posted two pieces to SSRN.  First up is Betting on Tort Suits after the Event:  From Champerty to Insurance.  The abstract provides:

Litigation financing is investment by a stranger into a lawsuit in which she has no interest other than the investment. The common law prohibitions on champerty and maintenance rendered litigation finance illegal for centuries, but today it is permissible in England, Europe, Australia and many U.S. jurisdictions. This article, which was prepared for a symposium on “Uncertainty in the Law” at DePaul Law School, examines one argument against litigation finance, which is that it allows strangers to impermissibly bet on the outcome of litigation.

The article first briefly reviews the handful of modern courts that have embraced the “Betting Argument” and their reasoning. It next looks at other examples in law where the risk of a party betting on an outcome provided the grounds (whether pretextual or not) for the prohibition of a contract between two persons. Thus, late Nineteenth Century courts were initially inclined to prohibit commodity futures contracts on the ground that they were a form of gambling. Similarly, life and fire insurance was viewed skeptically as a form of gambling until courts developed a moralized concept of “insurable interest.” The concept of the insurable interest provided rationale for courts to uphold insurance when it preserved what the insured already had and to strike down “bets” that allowed strangers to gain as a result of other’s misfortune.

The article concludes by noting that the instability of the tests invoked by earlier courts in the commodities and insurance context suggests that it may be impossible to identify and employ an a priori test for when third party investment in litigation is permissible. However, the article notes that many of the same policy concerns which led courts to accept commodities contracts and insurance contracts should lead courts to allow litigation finance. While the article does not rebut other arguments against litigation finance based on other moral or prudential concerns, it does attempt to quiet concerns based on the Betting Argument.

Second is The U.S. Supreme Court's Theory of Common Law Punitive Damages:  An Inauspicious StartThe abstract provides:

This essay, which was written for a book on whether European tort law ought to incorporate punitive damages, asks whether the United States Supreme Court has a “theory” of punitive damages and if so, how well does it explain and justify punitive damages. The essay first reviews the Supreme Court’s various constitutional theories of punitive damages, that is, whether and how state punitive damages awards are limited by the Due Process Clause. It then looks at the Supreme Court’s efforts to articulate a theory of punitive damages under federal common law in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker. It concludes that the theory expressed in Exxon Shipping overstated the need for its doctrine to provide defendants (and plaintiffs) with predictable awards and ignored (or rejected without engaging) arguments for punitive damages provided by efficient deterrence theorists in the academy.


July 9, 2012 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Olson on Early Offers

Walter Olson has an op-ed on early offers in todays New York Post.


July 9, 2012 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)