TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Thursday, April 24, 2014

JTL: Special Issue Honoring Richard Nagareda

"The Public Life of Private Law:  A Volume in Honor of Richard Nagareda" is available here.


April 24, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

2014 Clifford Symposium on Judge Weinstein

The topic of the 20th Annual Clifford Symposium on Tort Law and Social Policy at DePaul Law is "Judge Jack Weinstein's Impact on Civil Justice in America."  The symposium is Friday, April 24th.  As usual, there is a great lineup of speakers, including a videotape presentation by Justice Stephen Breyer.  You can register online at  or call  (312) 362-5292.

 Judge Jack Weinstein has led a remarkable life.  He is the American dream personified; born in the heartland in Wichita, Kansas, raised in Brooklyn, a child who had to make his way in the Depression, a student who secured his first college degree in night school, a veteran of World War II.  He has been a dock worker, a naval officer, a county attorney, a law professor and a federal judge.  At the 20th annual Clifford Symposium, we gather to honor him.  He has opened new vistas in the law of procedure, torts and evidence to name but three.  More than that, he has set a towering example of judicial independence and social conscience.  His work on Agent Orange and numerous mass torts that followed set American courts on a path that has expanded protection for defenseless victims and yielded a better society.  To borrow from one of his lines, “every day [he has laid] down his professional life for justice.”  It does us great honor to have this opportunity to celebrate his life and achievements.


April 3, 2014 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mass and Class Claims in Arbitration

From Stacie Strong (Missouri):

On April 9, the 11th Annual ITA-ASIL Conference: Mass and Class Claims in Arbitration will be presented from 12:00 noon – 4:30 p.m. in Washington D.C. at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center.

The conference examines the competing trends and future prospects for class and mass claims in litigation and arbitration and features a keynote address by Carolyn B. Lamm (White & Case LLP, Washington, D.C.), past President of the ABA and lead advocate for the 60,000 Italian claimants in Abaclat v. Argentine Republic.

Other participants include co-chairs Christopher Drahozal (University of Kansas School of Law) and S. I. Strong (University of Missouri School of Law) and a stellar faculty including Deepak Gupta (Gupta Beck PLLC, Washington, D.C.) and Geneviève Saumier (McGill University Faculty of Law, Montreal), who will discuss class arbitration in a domestic and comparative context, and Michael Waibel (University of Cambridge, Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, Cambridge) and Samuel Wordsworth, Q.C.(Essex Court Chambers, London), who will discuss mass claims.  Registration includes the networking luncheon which precedes the conference this year.

Click here for the brochure and here to register online.


March 17, 2014 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Jury Trial is Dying: Should We Mourn its Demise? at NYU

Wednesday, April 9, 12:25-1:50 p.m.

Vanderbilt Hall, Greenberg Lounge

Hosted by the Center on Civil Justice With additional support from the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society

Jury trials in civil cases are part of our Bill of Rights, and the jury trial has always been thought of as a pillar of American democracy. In practice, however, it is increasingly rare. Why is this happening? What does the demise of the jury trial mean for our civil justice system? Does it change democratic citizenship? Can the trend be reversed? Should we try, or just allow the jury trial become a relic of an earlier time?  Our distinguished panel of trial and appellate lawyers and academic experts will discuss these and other hotly debated questions.

CLE Approval Pending 


PANELISTS: Mark Behrens, Partner, Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP Renée Lettow Lerner, Associate Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School, Andrew Pincus, Partner, Mayer Brown Stephen Susman, Partner, Susman Godfrey


Arthur R. Miller, University Professor, NYU School of Law


March 12, 2014 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Neuroscience and Law: Injury, Capacity and Illness

The Hall Center for Law and Health and the Indiana Health Law Review have announced their annual symposium, Neuroscience and Law: Injury, Capacity and Illness, which will be held on March 28, 2014, in Indianapolis.


March 11, 2014 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Litigation Financing and Mass Torts

In "Would Litigation Financing Improve Mass Torts," the National Law Journal examines an article by Professor Byron Stier suggesting that plaintiffs should be allowed to sell their claims to financial entities.   As Chris mentioned in an earlier post, Byron's article was part of the "Perspectives on Mass Tort Litgiation" symposium held at Widener last April. 


March 10, 2014 in Conferences, Current Affairs, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Moral Values and Private Law Conference

The Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London, is pleased to announce the third Moral Values and Private Law conference, which will take place June 12-13, 2014, in London.
The conference will be held in the Moot Court Room in the East Wing of Somerset House, 9.30am-5pm on June 12 and 10am - 2pm on June 13.
As in previous years, the conference aims to address questions at the intersection of moral and legal philosophy and private law.
The confirmed speakers include: 
Steve Hedley (Cork)
John Goldberg (Harvard)
Benjamin Zipursky (Fordham)
James Goudkamp (Oxford)
Michele Graziadei (Torino)
Niamh Connolly (TCD)
Emmanuel Voyiakis (LSE)
John Oberdiek (Rutgers)
Rachael Walsh (TCD)
Victor Tadros (Warwick)
The fee to attend both days of the conference, which includes lunch and refreshments on both days, is £100. There is a reduced fee for students of £50. The fee to attend only one day of the conference is £40. 
The conference is being organised by Dr Irit Samet and Dr Sandy Steel. Please contact if you would like to attend. 

February 24, 2014 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

George Mason LEC Workshop on Risk, Injury, Liability & Insurance

Have you heard of the Law & Economics Center Workshops for Law Professors?  These four-day workshops are held throughout the year, throughout the country (with an emphasis on great locales to visit, such as the Florida Keys; Steamboat Springs, CO; and Palo Alto, CA), and are designed to foster a better understanding of law & economics. 

I recently attended the LEC Workshop on Risk, Injury, Liability & Insurance held January 30th to February 2nd at Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key in Florida. Lodging and most meals were covered by the LEC.  Many of the participants were alumni of other LEC workshops and thus knowledgeable about basic law and economics principles, though a handful (including myself) had only engaged peripherally in the topic.   Faculty presenters were Henry Butler, Executive Director of the LEC; Jonathan Klick (Penn), and Eric Helland (Claremont McKenna).   

Broadly speaking, the goal of these workshops is to introduce the participants to law and economics thinking on the particular topic.   Our workshop focused on the economics of uncertainty and risk, and how that translated to legal concepts in insurance and tort law.  Despite the variety in background knowledge levels among participants, the teaching was very accessible and at the same time sophisticated and engaging.   Discussions focused on problems of adverse selection, moral hazard, and external costs.  I definitely gained a better understanding of the economics of risk, and I benefited tremendously from both the assigned readings (voluminous but thoughtfully selected), and instruction. 

The Law & Economics Center deserves its outstanding reputation.  I highly recommend the LEC Workshops to anyone with a passing interest in law and economics. 


February 20, 2014 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Articles from Perspectives on Mass Tort Litigation

Last April at Widener, we hosted a symposium entitled "Perspectives on Mass Tort Litigation."  The first of two issues of articles from the Widener Law Journal is now available.  It's a terrific lineup:

Christopher J. Robinette, Introduction Download Robinette_V23I1

Victor E. Schwartz & Mark A. Behrens, Asbestos Litigation:  The "Endless Search for a Solvent Bystander" Download Behrens&Schwartz_V23I1

Eduardo C. Robreno, The Federal Asbestos Products Liability Multidistrict Litigation (MDL-875):  Black Hole or New Paradigm? Download Robreno_V23I1

Byron G. Stier, The Sale and Settlement of Mass Tort Claims:  Alternative Litigation Finance and a Possible Future of Mass Tort Resolution Download Stier_V23I1

Thurbert Baker, Paying to Play:  Inside the Ethics and Implications of Third-Party Litigation Financing Download Baker_V23I1

Sheila B. Scheuerman, Mass Tort Ethics:  What Can We Learn from the Case Against Stanley Chesley? Download Scheuerman_V23I1

Nicholas P. Vari & Michael J. Ross, In a League of Its Own:  Restoring Pennsylvania Product Liability Law to the Prevailing Modern "Attitude" of Tort Law Download Vari&Ross_V23I1

S. Todd Brown, Bankruptcy Trusts, Transparency, and the Future of Asbestos Compensation Download Brown_V23I1


February 18, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 10, 2014

2014 Society of Legal Scholars Call for Torts Papers

From James Lee (Birmingham):

I write to invite proposals for papers for the Torts subject section meeting of the 2014 Society of Legal Scholars Annual Conference. This year's conference will take place from Tuesday 9th to Friday 12th September 2014 at the University of Nottingham, with Professor Stephen Bailey as President.Torts subject section meeting of the 2014 Society of Legal Scholars Annual Conference. This year's conference will take place from Tuesday 9th to Friday 12th September 2014 at the University of Nottingham, with Professor Stephen Bailey as President.

The overall theme of the Conference is ‘Judging in the 21st Century’. I anticipate that it will be likely that Tort papers will be able to engage readily with this topic, whether focusing on decisions of the highest courts in relevant jurisdictions or on work at first instance, for example. Beyond the theme, proposals on any aspect of the law of tort would be very welcome. The Torts section will take place in the second half of the Conference: please note that it has changed from the first half last year, so will run on Thursday 11th and Friday 12th.

All members of the section, whether research students, early career academics or more senior colleagues are invited to offer papers. We are pleased to have had a range of colleagues presenting high quality papers in recent years, notably from many ODGers. If you are interested in presenting a paper, please e-mail me at with a title and a brief abstract. I am happy to discuss any potential submissions informally. Please also tell me if you are proposing a paper for another section, so that I can coordinate arrangements with my fellow convenors. The deadline for proposals is 12pm UK time on Friday 7th March 2014.

Proposers will be informed of the outcome as soon as possible after the deadline. All those who have papers accepted will be required to post a final abstract to the conference paperbank by the end of July.

Convenors have been asked to make it clear to all potential speakers and poster presenters that all speakers, presenters and delegates (and convenors) are required to book and to pay to attend the conference. Booking information will be circulated later in the year.



February 10, 2014 in Conferences, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 17, 2014

AALS Refund

We know many TortsProfs were unable to make it to D.C. due to the weather.   The Faculty Lounge reports that AALS is offering partial refunds of the registration fee for those unable to make it due to weather.    The form for a refund is here.  The deadline is January 31st.



January 17, 2014 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Annual Conference on European Tort Law

Acet_websiteRegistration is now open for the 13th Annual Conference on European Tort Law presented by the European Centre of Tort and Insurance Law.  The conference is April 24-26, 2014, and will be held in Vienna.   The program includes a special session on Cyber-Torts. 


January 16, 2014 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Alas, No AALS for Me

I had planned to be at AALS for the Torts Section tomorrow, but the weather has interfered.  I've talked to several TortsProfs who are in the same boat.  For those of you who can make it, Jenny Wriggins has set up a great program.  Sheila (who will be there) posted about it yesterday.  Adam Scales will be joining the Executive Committee as a new member.  Enjoy! 


P.S.  I'll still be doing something Torts-related today:  grading.

January 3, 2014 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

AALS - Torts Program on Saturday

The Insurance Law and Torts & Compensation Sections will present a joint progam at the AALS annual meeting on Saturday, January 4, 2014, from 10:30 am to 12:15 am.   The program is "On the Unavoidable Intersection of Torts and Insurance," and features Nora Engstrom (Stanford), Tom Baker (Penn), and from a call for papers, Juscelino F. Colares (Case Western).   The program description provides:

Recent scholarship has shown that tort law and practice are inextricably linked with insurance law. Liability insurance drives tort law in action, influencing what claims are brought, how they are litigated, and how damages are determined.  First party insurance such as health and disability insurance are essential parts of the picture in understanding the legal system’s treatment of injury.  The program reflects this intersection between torts and insurance, bringing together scholars doing cutting edge research adding to our understanding.  Papers will focus on several areas including lawyers’ liability and insurance, the failure of no-fault insurance, and oil spill compensation.



January 2, 2014 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Burch on Zimmerman on the Corrective Justice State

Elizabeth Chamblee Burch (Georgia) has posted to SSRN Revisiting the Government as Plaintiff.  The abstract provides:

This is a symposium essay dedicated to the late Richard Nagareda and written in response to Adam S. Zimmerman's piece, The Corrective Justice State.

As Professor Zimmerman recognizes, the debate over governments acting as plaintiffs and “regulating by deal” has shifted from initial questions over whether litigation produces the best public policy and whether executive officials are acting within the scope of their authority to how government actors should pursue and allocate settlements.  Yet, as this first wave of controversy suggests, the slate upon which executive officials currently write is neither clean nor uncontroversial.  Instead, this new debate is playing out in an unsettled landscape where those first-order questions about legitimacy remain unresolved.

When layered atop the existing controversy over the intermingling of government functions, executive officials’ relatively new allocative role may put their actions even further at odds with their traditional regulatory and proprietary functions, particularly when the action yielding the compensation is a public substitute for a private right of action.  What principles should guide officials in this new role: traditional tort law, social welfare, or political equality principles such as one person one vote?  More specifically, should executive officials look to tort law precepts to govern the allocation and retain concepts such as economic loss and the collateral source rule, or employ a governmental aid aspect, which would suggest a principal of equality that would not vary based on one’s income but would consider collateral sources of compensation?

Zimmerman suggests that officials have attempted to justify both their regulatory and allocative decisions with ill-suited corrective justice principles that translate poorly from the private to the public sphere.  Despite reservations about whether regulation through litigation results in the best policies or offers democratic checks, he seems more willing to accept executive officials’ increased litigation role in the wake of Congressional failings and the difficulty of certifying a private class action.  He thus tailors his reform proposals to target the government’s allocative function, suggesting ways to improve legitimacy and transparency in distributing recoveries, whatever the guiding principle might be. 

Still, certain concerns and questions linger.  First, Zimmerman narrows his focus to the second generation question of allocation, even though he raises and dismisses first-generation concerns over whether executive officials are properly acting within the scope of their authority and whether the regulatory solutions they generate through litigation are legitimate and optimal.  Shoring up back-end allocation procedures, however, does not alleviate first-generation legitimacy questions or regulatory concerns.  Second, Zimmerman opts not to iron out overarching systemic problems like legislative stalemates or mounting difficulty in certifying class actions,  preferring instead (or perhaps more realistically) to work within the circumstances that prompt executive action.  Yet, truly legitimizing process and adhering to corrective justice principles would require resolving systemic concerns about who should litigate and who should regulate.  Finally, given concerns that judges already “rubber stamp” class-action settlements and that parties tend to find innovative ways to gerrymander votes and stakeholder input in areas like bankruptcy, one might question the effectiveness of Zimmerman’s proposals for enhancing due process when allocating state recovery to affected citizens.


December 4, 2013 in Conferences, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Medical Malpractice and Compensation in Global Perspective

Medical Malpractice and Compensation in Global Perspective (edited by Ken Oliphant & Richard W Wright). De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston, 2013. xviii + 573 pages. ISBN 978-3-11-027023-5. €149,95 (hardback).
From the marketing materials:
This book examines the issues of medical malpractice and compensation for medical injuries in a uniquely global context, demonstrating the breadth of approaches currently taken around the world and revealing key areas of tension and the likely direction of future developments. The papers are drawn from a symposium held in Vienna in December 2010 which drew together legal experts from 14 national or regional systems across six continents. The collection is framed by a short introduction by the editors and a concluding chapter of comparative observations by Ken Oliphant.
The legal systems covered are Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Scandinavia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

November 20, 2013 in Books, Conferences, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Torts and Civil Rights Law: Migration and Conflict

Sandra Sperino sends news of an interesting upcoming symposium at Ohio State:

On November 15, 2013, The Ohio State Law Journal will host a symposium titled “Torts and Civil Rights Law: Migration and Conflict.”

Increasingly, courts and commentators have labeled federal statutory anti-discrimination claims “torts” or “tort-like” claims, without thoroughly discussing the implications of this classification. Particularly since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2011 ruling applying the controversial concept of “proximate cause” to a claim of employment discrimination, the lower courts have stepped up their efforts to reshape a number of anti-discrimination doctrines to align with general tort concepts, often with the effect of limiting the scope of statutory civil rights protection. Thus, tort law is playing a more prominent role in statutory interpretation under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

This symposium will explore the theoretical and doctrinal affinities and tensions between tort and anti-discrimination law, while fostering dialogue between tort and anti-discrimination scholars. Symposium speakers include the following:

Martha Chamallas, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law;

Charles A. Sullivan, Seton Hall University School of Law;

Sandra F. Sperino, University of Cincinnati College of Law;

Jonathan Cardi, Wake Forest University School of Law;

William R. Corbett, Louisiana State University Law Center;

Anthony Sebok, Yeshiva University Cardozo School of Law;

Catherine M. Sharkey, New York University School of Law;

Catherine E. Smith, University of Denver Sturm College of Law;

Angela Onwuachi-Willig, The University of Iowa College of Law;

Ifeoma Ajunwa, Research Fellow, Columbia Law School;

Maria Linda Ontiveros, University of San Francisco School of Law;

Laura Rothstein, University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law;

Deborah L. Brake, University of Pittsburgh School of Law; and

L. Camille Hébert, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.


The symposium will be held at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.  For more information, please visit the symposium website at

The Supreme Court of Ohio Commission on Continuing Legal Education has approved this symposium for 5.50 total CLE hours of instruction.


 - SBS



October 21, 2013 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 23, 2013

2014 Clifford Symposium

From our friends at Mass Tort Litigation comes news of the 2014 Clifford Symposium, which will explore Judge Jack Weinstein's impact on "a broad range of topics in civil justice, from torts, civil procedure and the law of evidence, to broader notions about what it means to be a judge and to seek justice in America's courts."    Justice Stephen Breyer is scheduled to give the main address.

The brochure, with a full list of speakers, is available here. 


September 23, 2013 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Public Life of the Private Law: A Conference in Honor of Richard A. Nagareda

On September 27-28, 2013, Vanderbilt Law School hosts "The Public Life of the Private Law: A Conference in Honor of Richard A. Nagareda."   The schedule provides:

Friday, September 27
1:30–3:00 p.m. Theodore Rave (Houston), "Settlement, ADR, and Class Action Superiority"
Commentators: Suzanna Sherry (Vanderbilt) chair, Robert Bone (Texas), and Emery Lee (FJC)

3:15–4:45 p.m. Maria Glover (Georgetown), "A Separate Peace? The Non-Removability of State Law Actions in Multi-District Litigation".   Commentators: Tracey George (Vanderbilt) chair, William Rubenstein (Harvard), and Patrick Woolley (Texas)

Saturday, September 28
8:30–10:00 a.m. Troy McKenzie (NYU), "The Mass Tort Bankruptcy: A Pre-History"
Commentators: Lynn Baker (Texas) chair, Joe Cecil (FJC), and Brian Fitzpatrick (Vanderbilt)

10:15–11:45 a.m. Catherine Borden (FJC) and Margaret Williams (FJC) (with Emery Lee), "Repeat Players in Multidistrict Litigation".  Commentators: Charles Silver (Texas) chair, Paul Edelman (Vanderbilt), and Myriam Gilles (Cardozo)

1:15–2:45 p.m. Adam Zimmerman (Loyola-Los Angeles), "The Corrective Justice State"
Commentators: John Goldberg (Harvard) chair, Elizabeth Chamblee Burch (Georgia), and Edward L. Rubin (Vanderbilt)




September 16, 2013 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Calnan on Civil Recourse Defended

Alan Calnan (Southwestern) has posted to SSRN Defenseless Self-Defense:  An Essay on Goldberg & Zipursky's Civil Recourse Defended.  The abstract provides:

In a recent symposium issue published by the Indiana Law Journal, Professors John C. P. Goldberg and Benjamin C. Zipursky provide a spirited defense of their theory of civil recourse, which sees the tort system exclusively as a means of empowering victims of wrongs. This essay assails that defense, finding it curiously defenseless in two related respects. First and most obviously, civil recourse theory lacks any meaningful explanation of the defensive rights at play within the tort system. Second and more importantly, Goldberg & Zipursky’s theory is inescapably indefensible because it cannot cure this omission without simultaneously self-destructing. When recourse meets defense, it is transformed into competition. This competitive framework precludes the antithetical enablement interpretation of civil recourse. By counterbalancing rights, tort does not take sides. It mediates and moderates the parties’ polar positions.

Goldberg & Zipursky misunderstand this unique human institution because they completely disregard human nature. People possess a conflicted mix of instinct and rationality mediated by a constant yearning for reconciliation and balance. This triune nature permeates our cultural artifacts, including our laws. Indeed, as this essay will show, it accounts for much of the history, substance, and structure of the tort system. Though broadly drawn, this extraordinary consonance bears further investigation. But to discover tort’s inner truth, we cannot continue searching with blinkered perspectives like civil recourse theory. Instead, we must open our eyes to the law’s deepest foundations.


July 23, 2013 in Conferences, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)