TortsProf Blog

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Widener Univ. School of Law

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gifford et al. on Ordering the Torts Casebook

Don Gifford (Maryland), Joseph Kroart, Brian Jones (Villanova-Sociology), and Cheryl Cortemeglia have posted to SSRN What's on First?  Organizing the Casebook and Molding the Mind.  The abstract provides:

This study empirically tests the proposition that law students adopt different conceptions of the judge’s role in adjudication based on whether they first study intentional torts, negligence, or strict liability. The authors conducted an anonymous survey of more than 450 students enrolled in eight law schools at the beginning, mid-point, and end of the first semester of law school. The students were prompted to indicate to what extent they believed the judge’s role to be one of rule application and, conversely, to what extent it was one of considering social, economic, and ideological factors. The survey found that while all three groups of students shifted toward a belief that judges consider social, economic, and ideological factors, the degree of the shift differed in a statistically significant way depending on which torts their professors taught first. These differences persisted throughout the semester, even after they studied other torts. Further, these differences were observed even when the analysis controlled for law school ranking and were more pronounced among students attending the highest ranked schools.

In interpreting the survey results, the authors employ sociologist Erving Goffman’s theory of “frame analysis” and the work of cognitive psychologists including Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman on “anchoring.” The Article concludes that the category of tort liability to which students are first exposed affects the “frame” or “lens” through which they view the judicial process. This frame becomes anchored and persists throughout the study of other tort categories. The lessons about the nature of the judging process learned implicitly through the professor’s choice of topic sequence may be even more important than the substantive topics themselves.


August 30, 2012 in Books, Scholarship, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Two by Rustad

Mike Rustad (Suffolk) has posted two pieces to SSRN.  First, he reviews Marshall Shapo's new book in The Myth of a Value-Free Injury Law:  Constitutive Injury Law as a Cultural Battleground.  The abstract provides:

This review essay critically examines Marshall Shapo’s new book, An Injury Constitution. Shapo’s new book provides a counter to simplistic arguments that torts is driving our economy into a death spiral by jackpot justice judgments in which undeserving plaintiffs collect enormous awards given by runaway juries. Drawing upon forty-six years of torts scholarship and teaching, Shapo’s pluralistic theory demonstrates how injury law reflects our culture and our inner life, as well as our aspirations to constrain bullies and the reckless acts that endanger society. In its eleven chapters, this book contends that American injury law has evolved as the functional equivalent of a constitution.

Second, from the AALS mid-year meeting last month is Tort Teaching Lessons from the BP Oil Spill.  The abstract provides:

This article is drawn from my talk on the topic of "How to Teach Disaster as Part of a Torts Curriculum" at the AALS Workshop on Torts, Environment and Disaster from June 8-10, 2012, in Berkeley. This piece draws upon an informal survey I conducted in the spring of 2012 on how torts teachers employed the BP oil spill disaster (and other disasters) in their basic torts course (to illustrate topics such as the economic loss rule, legal causation, damages, and the impact of safety regulations).


July 27, 2012 in Books, Conferences, Scholarship, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Oliphant & Karner on Loss of Housekeeping Capacity

Ken Oliphant (Director, Institute for European Tort Law) & Ernst Karner (University of Vienna) have co-edited a book for the European Centre of Tort and Insurance Law/Institute for European Tort Law.  Loss of Housekeeping Capacity from De Gruyter is a comparative study on liability for the loss of housekeeping capacity.  The abstract provides:

The topic is of particular interest for insurers as compensation for loss of housekeeping capacity is one of the main heads of damages awarded for personal injury. Naturally it also has considerable importance for accident victims. Yet it has received relatively little scholarly attention, at least from a comparative perspective. The aim of this study is to examine national approaches to the award of damages under the head of loss of housekeeping capacity, and to compare the levels of damages so awarded. The research therefore addressed both the concepts employed in different national systems and, by means of practical case studies, the compensation actually paid in individual cases.
The results of the research comprise ten country reports (Austria, England and Wales, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain and Switzerland) based on a Questionnaire (Part I: General Part and Doctrine, Part II: Concrete Assessment Examples) and a concluding Comparative Report.

July 24, 2012 in Books, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ken Feinberg's New Book: "Who Gets What"

Ken Feinberg has a new book on the market, "Who Gets What: Fair Compensation after Tragedy and Financial Upheaval."   From the publisher:

Agent Orange, the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, the Virginia Tech massacre, the 2008 financial crisis, and the Deep Horizon gulf oil spill: each was a disaster in its own right. What they had in common was their aftermath—each required compensation for lives lost, bodies maimed, livelihoods wrecked, economies and ecosystems upended. In each instance, an objective third party had to step up and dole out allocated funds: in each instance, Presidents, Attorneys General, and other public officials have asked Kenneth R. Feinberg to get the job done.

In Who Gets What?, Feinberg reveals the deep thought that must go into each decision, not to mention the most important question that arises after a tragedy: why compensate at all? The result is a remarkably accessible discussion of the practical and philosophical problems of using money as a way to address wrongs and reflect individual worth.

NPR recently interviewed Feinberg about the book and his experiences.


July 24, 2012 in Books, Current Affairs, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | 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)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Epstein Joined by Sharkey for Casebook's 10th Edition

Today Wolters Kluwer releases the 10th edition of the Epstein casebook, with Cathy Sharkey (NYU) as a co-editor.  To see Epstein & Sharkey's Cases and Materials on Torts, click here:

From the publisher:

The Tenth Edition represents the launch of a new partnership between Richard Epstein, who has edited this casebook since 1977, and Catherine Sharkey, who joins as co-editor for this and future editions.  Our goal is nothing short of producing a Torts casebook for the next generation of torts professors and students.  With that in mind, we have held fast to all of the intellectual rigor, historical depth, and careful case selection and comprehensive notes of the previous nine editions.  But we have embraced change as well, adding diverse perspectives (such as race and gender-based critiques of damages calculations), incorporating contemporary empirical scholarship (especially on medical malpractice, damages and jury decisionmaking), and addressing the influence of technology (such as privacy and defamation in the Internet age).  It is fitting that, with the Tenth Edition, we introduce the Smart Book electronic edition of the casebook, which will create opportunities for professors and students to incorporate additional materials, including photographs, podcasts, and videos.

We received requests for modest additions, including references to the Second or Third Restatement or other governing law.  Many edits reflect this valuable feedback from professors who have used previous editions of the casebook.  On several professors' request, we have also added "Problems," which are hypotheticals based on real cases.  They are designed to test student understanding of major concepts, and answers are discussed in this Manual.

We welcome dialogue with all users of our casebook.  We have benefited greatly from comments and criticisms received over the years.  And we imagine that the new Smart Book will only open the door further to such collaboration.  It is our hope that, together, we can build the most effective casebook for a new generation.  We are eager to hear from you:;


March 2, 2012 in Books, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Gripping Supreme Court Legal Thriller...By An Insider

Last-justice-225  Okay, so this is not torts-related, but I simply had to mention the release of The Last Justice, written by my good friend Anthony Franze.  Anthony is a lawyer with Arnold & Porter's Appellate & Supreme Court practice and his novel is set in the high court with the Solicitor General as the main character.  

Advance reviews already have raved that the book is reminiscent of "early Robert Ludlum," and have praised Anthony as the next John Grisham:  

"Bristling with fascinating insider details, The Last Justice by Anthony J. Franze is a rare legal thriller—authentic, exciting, and beautifully written. From little-seen Supreme Court chambers to elite boardrooms and darkened bedrooms, you'll be swept along on a tidal wave of suspense. Watch out, John Grisham—Franze has arrived, and he's damn good!" 
   —Gayle Lynds, New York Times bestselling author

"A stunning opening, an action-packed, intriguing middle, and a pulse-pounding ending. Who could ask for more from a thriller. Welcome Anthony Franze—a great new voice has entered the genre." 
   —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author

"In the style of John Grisham, with the authority of Oliver Wendell Holmes—and with insight to spare—Anthony Franze's legal thriller brings you into Washington's innermost inner sanctums, at a breakneck pace, and with writing so good that you will feel the chill of the marble halls—and the bullets slicing the chilly air around you." 
   —Keith Thomson, New York Times bestselling author

Even the National Law Journal’s Supreme Court correspondent Tony Mauro called the book a “page-turner” that is “downright respectful of the Court, scrupulously accurate in its details about the institution's inner working.”  

Having read the book myself - and having taught a Supreme Court Seminar - I agree with all the praise.  I am biased, I admit, but the book is fantastic!   It strikes an incredible balance of supense with accurate insider details about the Court.  The history and details about the Supreme Court and the SG's Office are so accurate and well written that I could see the book being used as optional reading in an Appellate Practice or Law & Literature course, much the way A Civil Action is used in Civ Pro courses.   

The book is available at your local book store and on-line starting today.   Check it out!

- SBS 

February 7, 2012 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bloom & Davies Review Measure of Injury

Anne Bloom and Julie Davies (University of the Pacific) review Martha Chamallas's and Jenny Wriggins's book, The Measure of Injury in this SSRN posting.


December 20, 2011 in Books, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Maxeiner: Failures of American Civil Justice in International Perspective

James Maxeiner (Baltimore) has published Failures of American Civil Justice in International Perspective.  It is available from Amazon.  The description:

Civil justice in the United States is neither civil nor just. Instead it embodies a maxim that the American legal system is a paragon of legal process which assures its citizens a fair and equal treatment under the law. Long have critics recognized the system's failings while offering abundant criticism but few solutions. This book provides a comparative-critical introduction to civil justice systems in the United States, Germany, and Korea. It shows the shortcomings of the American system and compares them with German and Korean successes in implementing the rule of law. The author argues that these shortcomings could easily be fixed if the American legal systems were open to seeing how other legal systems' civil justice processes handle cases more efficiently and fairly. Far from being a treatise for specialists, this book is an introductory text for civil justice in the three aforementioned legal systems. It is intended to be accessible to people with a general knowledge of a modern legal system.

December 2, 2011 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Goldberg's Book for 1Ls

TortsProf John Goldberg and Barry Friedman have written a primer on succeeding in the first year of law school.  Entitled Open Book:  Succeeding on Exams from the First Day of Law School, it is available here.

Here are the reviews and description:


This is a book that will help law students get law school, not just law school exams. It really captures what it means to think like a lawyer. --Amy Coney Barrett, Professor, Notre Dame Law School

I would definitely recommend this book. It gives great advice to students who have no idea what to expect when they take their first law school exams. --Cynthia L. Fountaine, Dean and Professor of Law, Southern Illinois University School of Law

No book is a guarantor of better results, but this one would certainly help the majority of students to add points to their exam results, and some students could literally turn their performances around by following the advice of this book. --Michael D. Murray, Associate Professor, Valparaiso University School of Law

Product Description

A concise, highly accessible guide to exam success. Provides an insider s view of what professors look for in exam answers, and how exam-taking connects to good lawyering. Accompanied by a Web site with content that is both free (e.g., sample outlines, class notes, case briefs) and for-sale (e.g., sample exams and memos written by professors giving feedback on the answers).  


  • High-profile, experienced authors from elite schools with hands-on experience teaching the majority of the courses in the traditional 1L curriculum
  • Distinctive central pedagogy: the pinball method of exam-taking
  • Accompanied by Web site with content that is both free (e.g., sample outlines, class notes, case briefs) and for-sale (e.g., sample exams and memos written by professors giving feedback on the answers).
  • Explains to students not just the how but the why of law school exams what makes law school exams different from exams students have encountered in other settings
  • Detailed examples provide concrete demonstrations of exam-taking techniques
  • Highly readable: prose is straightforward and humorous; key points accented with memorably amusing illustrations Not just an exam prep book; students are offered guidance on getting the most out of classes, and law school more generally.

I've glanced through the book, and it looks great.


August 23, 2011 in Books, Teaching Torts, TortsProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cupp on Lytton on Clergy Abuse Suits

Rick Cupp (Pepperdine) has posted to SSRN Seeking Redemption for Torts Law--A Review of "Holding Bishops Accountable:  How Lawsuits Helped the Catholic Church Confront Clergy Sexual Abuse" by Timothy D. Lytton (Harvard University Press 2008).  The abstract provides:

In Holding Bishops Accountable, Professor Timothy Lytton presents the Catholic Church child molestation lawsuits as an example to encourage a more careful look at torts litigation’s potential policymaking benefits. In this forthcoming book review (draft available for download), Professor Cupp praises Professor Lytton’s thesis and his impressive scholarship. However, the review raises as an open question whether the clergy abuse cases provide an illustration that is too exceptional to substantially enhance openness to the idea of torts litigation as a policy tool.

Church leaders abusing vulnerable children creates a deeply compelling “morality play,” and a plaintiff’s attorney’s perfect plotline. Finding a more sympathetic plaintiff than a defenseless child or a more deplorable defendant than a corrupt clergyman abusing innocents is not easy. The review acknowledges that in the information age a strong symbiotic relationship exists between news and torts lawsuits that should not be underestimated in assessing torts law’s impact on policymaking. With a scenario as shocking as priests molesting children, the media justifiably flock to cover the scandalous story, the extensive coverage shapes public perceptions, and significant policy change predictably follows.

The review recognizes that under the right circumstances, torts law might play a role as a policymaking tool, but it cautions that the particularly powerful illustration of clergy abuse litigation is just that – particularly powerful – and that torts law’s potential for influencing policy is more limited in most litigation scenarios.


June 8, 2011 in Books, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Book - "European Tort Law: Basic Texts"

European tort law

Ken Oliphant (Director, Institute for European Tort Law) is co-editor of a new book - European Tort Law: Basic Texts.  From the publisher:

This unique collection makes available, for the first time in a single volume, English versions of basic tort law texts from 27 national systems in Europe. It includes key provisions of national civil codes and other important legislative enactments, as well as extracts from leading cases. Additional chapters deal with EU Law (EU Tort Law and EU Conflict of Laws) and the European harmonisation projects (the Principles of European Tort Law and the Draft Common Frame of Reference).

The book was launched on the occasion of last week’s 10th Annual Conference on European Tort Law in Vienna, and is dedicated to the conference’s founder, Helmut Koziol.




May 3, 2011 in Books, Scholarship, TortsProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Free, Downloadable Torts Text

Eric Johnson (North Dakota) has posted to SSRN a full Torts text.  Johnson blogged about the project at Prawfs.


September 29, 2010 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Chamallas & Wriggins: "The Measure of Injury"

The Measure of Injury:  Race, Gender, and Tort Law by Martha Chamallas (Ohio State) and Jennifer Wriggins (Maine) was published a little over a week ago by NYU Press.  The advance reviews:

"This book is brimming with insights about how societies do and should express what matters in assigning liability for human pain and loss."  Martha Minnow (Harvard)

"This book asks important questions about the tort system....A promising direction for scholarship...."  Keith Hylton (Boston University)

An "Author Meets Readers" panel discussed the book at Law & Society late last month.  Catharine Wells (Boston College) was kind enough to provide me a post based on her remarks from the panel.  Her guest post will be up tomorrow.


June 9, 2010 in Books, Conferences, Guest Blogger, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Popper's "Tort Reform" in Text Format

Earlier Andrew Popper's "Tort Reform" book received publicity both here at TortsProf (Sheila) and at the VC(Todd Zywicki).  West has now announced that it will be available not only in electronic format (as originally advertised), but also as a traditional text (in paperback).  It will be available in time for the fall semester.


May 26, 2010 in Books, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gender, Race, and Tort Law

In less than two weeks, The Measure of Injury:  Race, Gender, and Tort Law,  the new book by Martha Chamallas (Ohio State) and Jenny Wriggins (Maine), will be available from NYU Press. 

At Law & Society in Chicago next week, there will be an "Author Meets Readers" panel on the book.  Scheduled for Friday, May 28 from 4:30-6:15 at the Renaissance Hotel, the panel will be chaired by Anne Bloom (University of the Pacific).  Readers are:  Julie Davies (University of the Pacific), Lisa Pruitt (California, Davis), Catharine Wells (Boston College), and me. 


May 20, 2010 in Books, Conferences, Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Kings of Torts" (aka The Dickie Scruggs Story)

In yesterday's Clarion Ledger, Sid Salter reviewed "Kings of Tort" by Alan Lange and Tom Dawson.   The book tells the story of Dickie Scruggs's fall from grace in the bribery scandal that led to his current address in federal prison.

As an aside, I know nothing about copyright law, but I am surprised that the book title is so similar to John Grishama's popular novel "The King of Torts."

UPDATE:   Readers might also be interested in "The King and the Dean:  Melvin Belli, Roscoe Pound, and the Common Law Nation," which is chapter four in Patriots and Cosmopolitans: Hidden Histories of American Law by John Witt (Yale). 


December 7, 2009 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

OT: The Legal Limit by Martin Clark

Ah, summer!  The scholarship, the sun, the books!  I just read a terrific book I want to recommend to our readers:  Martin Clark's The Legal Limit.  The book has been out for a year, and is now available in paperback.

I begin with caveats.  First, Random House sent me a copy of this book; I assume the company wanted me to do exactly what I'm doing.  I'm okay with that because I'm disclosing it, and, more importantly, I love the book.  Second, the book is set in rural Stuart, Virginia, about 40 miles from where I grew up in Hillsville, Virginia.  The thrill I get in seeing places like Pandowdy's Restaurant in Mt. Airy, North Carolina factor into the plot of a novel from a major publishing house may not be shared by all.

Without giving away too much of the plot, the book follows two brothers who are victims of an abusive childhood:  Gates and Mason Hunt.  Gates, the older brother, falls into dealing drugs and sponging off his mother.  By contrast, Mason goes on to law school, and, eventually, becomes the Commonwealth's Attorney of Patrick County (of which Stuart is the county seat).  However, the brothers have kept a secret that threatens everything Mason has worked to achieve.

The book is both entertaining and enlightening.  The plot is gripping, and Clark does a superb job with character development (but, hey, every novel can't have a TortsProf as action hero!).  I can attest that he evocatively conveys the atmosphere of a small town in Virginia in the 1980's.  Additionally, the book raises questions about the relationship between law and justice, and the proper place for loyalty in both.

Martin Clark is a circuit court judge seated in Stuart, and the author of two previous, well-received novels:  The Many Aspects of Mobile Home Living (love the title!) and Plain Heathen Mischief.  Writing fiction is challenging (my mother writes), and the fact Judge Clark can do it well on top of his day job is impressive. 


July 29, 2009 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Torts Texts

Legal publishers are experimenting with a new "Looseleaf" format.  The text will be printed, but not bound.  Students will be able to purchase a binder to insert the pages of the text.  I'm excited about this for two reasons.  First, it will save our students a lot of money.  The traditional text typically costs between $110-150.  Looseleaf costs will be about 35-40% of that amount.  Second, it will allow them (and us!) to carry only the small, relevant, relatively weightless portion of text.

I received an e-mail from Aspen yesterday stating that The Torts Process by Henderson, Pearson, Kysar, & Siliciano is now available in looseleaf (looseleaf ISBN:  978-0-7355-8888-2).  It would appear that this is a change in marketing strategy, so perhaps we can expect looseleaf versions for other popular Aspen Torts titles.  At Lexis, three Torts titles are available in looseleaf format:  Tort Law:  Cases, Perspectives, and Problems by Galligan, Haddon, Maraist, McClellan, Rustad, Terry, & Wildman (looseleaf ISBN:   9781422425985); Torts:  Cases, Problems, and Exercises by Weaver, Bauman, Cross, Klein, Martin, & Zwier (looseleaf ISBN:  ISBN 9781422472682) ; and Tort Law and Practice by Vetri, Levine, Vogel, & Finley (looseleaf ISBN:  9781422418321). 

On a related note, Carolina Academic Press has just announced a forthcoming (August 2009) fourth edition of Studies in American Tort Law by Johnson & Gunn.


May 14, 2009 in Books, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Prosser on Torts" in Pop Culture

 And now for something completely different.  The end of classes finds me in a somewhat mellow mood, focusing on the lighter side of torts.  In that vein, I'm curious about the number of references to Prosser on Torts in pop culture. 

For instance:

  •  In the 1991 movie "Doc Hollywood," Michael J. Fox's character encounters Julie Warner's character in a diner in fictional Grady, South Carolina.  She is interested in eventually going to law school, and she's reading the famous tome. 
  • In Lisa Scottoline's 2006 novel, Dirty Blonde, on page 335, the main character is unpacking books in her judicial chambers.  One of the books is, again, the famous tome.  The heroine clearly had good taste in law classes:  "Cate unpacked another book, Prosser on Torts.  She had loved that class."  (Thanks to my colleague Kathy Jones for the tip.)
  • During the 2008 campaign, Prosser on Torts made an appearance on the website Things Younger than John McCain here

Am I missing any?


April 30, 2009 in Books, Film | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)