TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tort Law in Recent State of the Union Addresses

Thanks to comments from Tony Francis and TPM, I know that George W. Bush discussed medical liability reform in his 2005 State of the Union address.  Also, in 2011, Barack Obama called for medical liability reform to cut down on frivolous lawsuits and save the government money.  It makes sense that tort law and reform would appear more in SoU addresses, which are policy-oriented, than in inaugural addresses, which focus on very broad principles.


September 21, 2012 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tort Law in William Howard Taft's Inaugural Address

Yesterday I asked which inaugural address contained a direct discussion of tort law.  The answer is William Howard Taft's, delivered on March 4, 1909.  Taft discussed the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) toward the end of his address:

There is one other matter to which I shall refer. It was made the subject of great controversy during the election and calls for at least a passing reference now. My distinguished predecessor has given much attention to the cause of labor, with whose struggle for better things he has shown the sincerest sympathy. At his instance Congress has passed the bill fixing the liability of interstate carriers to their employees for injury sustained in the course of employment, abolishing the rule of fellow-servant and the common-law rule as to contributory negligence, and substituting therefor the so-called rule of "comparative negligence."

Only a few months earlier,Theodore Roosevelt discussed tort law and workers' compensation in the State of the Union address (notice the early December date in 1908).  Here's a taste:

Our present system, or rather no system, works dreadful wrong, and is of benefit to only one class of people--the lawyers. When a workman is injured what he needs is not an expensive and doubtful lawsuit, but the certainty of relief through immediate administrative action. The number of accidents which result in the death or crippling of wageworkers, in the Union at large, is simply appalling; in a very few years it runs up a total far in excess of the aggregate of the dead and wounded in any modern war. No academic theory about "freedom of contract" or "constitutional liberty to contract" should be permitted to interfere with this and similar        movements. Progress in civilization has everywhere meant a limitation and regulation of contract.

Does anyone know of other State of the Union addresses that included tort law?  I seem to recall George W. Bush referring to it. 



September 20, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tort Law in Inaugural Addresses

Today I'm channeling Al Brophy in both form (trivia question) and content (history).  I just finished reading The Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents, edited by John Gabriel Hunt.  Here's the question:  In which inaugural address is tort law discussed directly?


September 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Central States Law Schools Association Conference


The Central States Law Schools Association 2012 Scholarship Conference will be held October 19 and 20, 2012 at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, in Cleveland, Ohio.  We invite law faculty from across the country to submit proposals to present papers or works in progress.

The purpose of CSLSA is to foster scholarly exchanges among law faculty across legal disciplines.  The annual CSLSA conference is a forum for legal scholars, especially more junior scholars, to present working papers or finished articles on any law-related topic in a relaxed and supportive setting where junior and senior scholars from various disciplines are available to comment.  More mature scholars have an opportunity to test new ideas in a less formal setting than is generally available for their work. 

To allow scheduling of the conference, please send an abstract of no more than 500 words to Secretary Missy Lonegrass at by September 22, 2012. Any late submissions will be considered on a space available basis only.  

For those who are interested, the CSLSA mentorship program pairs interested junior scholars with more senior mentors in their fields of expertise to provide feedback on their presentations or papers.  To participate in the mentorship program as either a mentor or mentee, please contact Vice-President Elizabeth Young at

            In keeping with tradition, CSLSA is able to pay for one night’s lodging for presenters from member schools.  If a school is interested in joining CSLSA and has not received an invoice, please contact Treasurer Carolyn Dessin at

     For more information about CSLSA, visit our website at



September 17, 2012 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)