Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Cathy Sharkey (NYU) has posted to SSRN Economic Analysis of Punitive Damages: Theory, Empirics, and Doctrine. The abstract provides:
This chapter — to be included in Research Handbook on the Economics of Torts (Arlen ed., Kluwer, forthcoming 2012) — assesses economic rationales for punitive damages in light of contemporary empirics and doctrine. The primary economic rationale for supra-compensatory damages is optimal deterrence (or loss internalization): when compensatory damages alone will not induce an actor to take cost-justified safety precautions, then supra-compensatory damages are necessary to force the actor to internalize the full scope of the harms caused by his actions. Alternative economic rationales — disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and enforcement of property rights — have been proposed to align the theory with the historical and conventional focus of punitive damages on intentionally wrongful behavior.
Notwithstanding its academic prominence, the economic deterrence rationale has not dominated doctrine. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has all but rejected economic deterrence, by instead placing increasing emphasis on a competing retributive punishment rationale. But, since punitive damages lie squarely within the purview of state law, state legislatures and courts possess a degree of freedom to articulate state-based goals of punitive damages — such as economic deterrence — even in the face of heavy-handed federal constitutional review imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
The Federal Courts Law Review at the Charleston School of Law is sponsoring a symposium on "Mass Torts in the Federal Courts" on February 24, 2012, in Charleston.
Ken Feinberg will be giving the keynote address. Panels will address preemption, aggregation issues in mass torts, and ethical issues surrounding fees and settlements in mass tort cases. Speakers include Lynnn Baker (Texas), Alexandra Lahav (UConn), Linda Mullenix (Texas), Morris Ratner (Hastings), and Cathy Sharkey (NYU).
Registration is now open: Download Mass Torts 2012 Registration Form
A copy of the agenda is also available: Download SymposiumMailer-1-1
Monday, January 23, 2012
The Legal Intelligencer reports that Pfizer has asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi District Litigation to consolidate over 50 cases filed in PA, NY, IL, MS, MO and OH. The cases involve Zoloft, which the plaintiffs allege caused birth defects in the patient's children. Pfizer has requested the Southern District of New York for the MDL forum. The full story is behind a registration block.