Thursday, February 28, 2013
Anita Allen (Penn) has posted to SSRN Natural Law, Slavery, and the Right to Privacy Tort. The abstract provides:
In 1905 the Supreme Court of Georgia became the first state high court to recognize a freestanding “right to privacy” tort in the common law. The landmark case was Pavesich v. New England Life Insurance Co. Must it be a cause for deep jurisprudential concern that the common law right to privacy in wide currency today originated in Pavesich’s explicit judicial interpretation of the requirements of natural law? Must it be an additional worry that the court which originated the common law privacy right asserted that a free white man whose photograph is published without his consent in a city newspaper is like a slave in bondage?
I argue that the jurisprudence of Pavesich need not be troubling. Pavesich’s natural law argument was supplemented by several positive law arguments. The positive law arguments were a strong enough basis for finding a right to privacy in the common law, as indeed Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis had previously argued. The observation that the Pavesich court’s natural law argument ran alongside positivistic arguments suggests that the arresting, high-toned natural law and slavery appeals in Pavesich are inessential rhetorical throwaways. But I maintain that the natural law argument and slavery analogy features of Judge Andrew Jackson Cobb’s opinion extolling the “liberty of privacy” are (1) of critical importance to a full contextual understanding of the decision and (2) illuminate the contemporary case for recognizing invasions of privacy as civil injuries to freedom and self-determination. One can poke holes in the logic of Thomas Aquinas and John Locke as scholars have done for centuries. But one can as easily choose to celebrate the spirit of the natural law tradition. The natural law tradition represents efforts rhetorically, rationally, and intuitively to derive principles of justice and goodness from basic facts about human characteristics, needs, and desires, where otherwise binding sovereign law may fall short.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Mark Grady (UCLA) has posted to SSRN Causation and Foreseeability. The abstract provides:
This paper critiques the theory of causation offered by Steven Shavell and proposes a new theory that more successfully predicts the results of proximate cause cases. Two doctrines of proximate cause exist: “direct consequences” and “reasonable foresight.” We can explain case law best if we assume that both doctrines must be satisfied in order for negligence liability to exist. Thus, the two doctrines do not represent alternative conceptions of proximate cause as some analysts have proposed. Proximate cause limitations are prominent when a party has inadvertently, as opposed to deliberately, omitted a reasonable precaution. Actors cannot efficiently reduce their inadvertent lapses to zero. In situations in which the defendant’s conduct has been “possibly efficient,” causation doctrines truncate liability. This truncation has the effect of preserving efficient activity levels and preventing actors from substituting inefficiently durable precaution for nondurable precaution.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Forbes reports that Pfizer is asking the Alabama Supreme Court to reconsider its decision holding Pfizer liable for failing to warn a consumer who took a generic version of the drug Reglan. The article points out the regulation, not litigation, may answer this one:
Meanwhile, though, the issue may be decided by the FDA. The agency recently disclosed plans to revise its regulations so that generic drugmakers can update product labeling and warn patients about risks associated with their drugs. If the FDA were to make such a change, generic drugmakers could be sued in state courts – if they become aware of evidence of serious side effects, but do not take action to update the product labeling (back story).