Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Herstein on How Tort Law Empowers

Ori Herstein (King's College London) has posted to SSRN How Tort Law Empowers.  The abstract provides:

The following realization has begun to dominate contemporary tort theory: in order to understand tort law, theorists must also focus on the legal power that tort law vests in tort victims to pursue a remedy, not only on the implications of holding tortfeasors liable for such a remedy.  This insight has lead some of the leading theorists of tort law – often writing under the banner of ‘civil recourse theory’ – to suggest that tort law empowers tort victims to pursue and even to obtain redress from tortfeasors.  This view has even been expanded to describe private law in general.  Yet, close scrutiny reveals that tort law mostly does not vest in tort victims a legal power over the rights of tortfeasors.  The same is most likely true for private law more broadly.  For the sake of both descriptive accuracy and of realizing its prescriptive potential, civil recourse theory is best amended to view the legal rights and powers of tort victims, as well as the realities of civil litigation, more soberly, and with more conceptual accuracy.  This article endorses and grounds the more modest and I think orthodox view on how tort law and private law more broadly empower victims of civil wrongs.


January 15, 2014 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Culhane on the Bridge Closure

On Saturday, I posted John Culhane's query on the George Washington Bridge closure.  His piece for Slate is here.


January 14, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Garlock Asbestos Order

Courtesy of Cary Sklaren, is the Order Estimating Aggregate Liability in the Garlock bankruptcy:  Download Garlock_Order_Estimating_Liability_12192013.  The judge estimated liability at $125M, about 1/10 of the requested amount.  In the course of a 65-page opinion, the judge wrote about multiple misrepresentations by plaintiffs' lawyers. 

Shortly, the Widener Law Journal will be publishing papers from the Perspectives on Mass Tort Litigation symposium held here last April.  Included will be a detailed article by Judge Eduardo Robreno (E.D. Pa.) explaining his methods for resolving gridlock in MDL-875, as well as articles on asbestos by Victor Schwartz & Mark Behrens and Todd Brown.


January 13, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Torts in the Bridge Closure?

My Widener colleague, John Culhane, often writes for Slate.  He is thinking through a piece about potential torts in the George Washington Bridge closure and asked me to post the following:

Does anyone want to weigh in on whether the BridgeGate scandal currently engulfing the Christie Administration is likely to result in successful tort litigation against state officials by those who suffered economic loss because of the traffic nightmares? The first hurdle would be the extent of sovereign immunity for intentional bad acts in New Jersey (which I'm hoping someone just knows!), but the more interesting questions have to do with whether the economic loss rule, which applies to accidental harm cases, would prevent suits for this kind of intentional misconduct. I'm thinking that New Jersey would be one state where the claim might have some traction, because of the People Express case, 495 A.2d 107 (N.J. 1985) (not much followed, but not overruled as far as I can tell), which expresses a broadly progressive view of tort liability. I'm also thinking that there's some traction in the interference with economic relations cases, even though these usually require specific intent to interfere with an economic relationship rather than an intent to do some other kind of harm (such as a battery, or, in this case, to make life miserable for the Ft. Lee mayor (as if he didn't have enough problems already!).

Any thoughts, torts colleagues?

You can respond in the comments or e-mail John directly at .


January 11, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Frakes & Jena on Med Mal's Role in Health Care Quality

Michael Frakes (Cornell) & Anumpam Jena (University of Chicago-Economics) have posted to SSRN Does Medical Malpractice Law Improve Health Care Quality?.  The abstract provides:

Despite the fundamental role of deterrence in justifying a system of medical malpractice law, surprisingly little evidence has been put forth to date bearing on the relationship between medical liability forces on the one hand and medical errors and health care quality on the other.  In this paper, we estimate this relationship using clinically validated measures of health care treatment quality constructed using data from the 1979 to 2005 National Hospital Discharge Surveys and the 1987 to 2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System records.  Drawing upon traditional, remedy-centric tort reforms — e.g., damage caps — we estimate that the current liability system plays at most a modest role in inducing higher levels of health care quality.  We contend that this limited independent role for medical liability may be a reflection upon the structural nature of the present system of liability rules, which largely hold physicians to standards determined according to industry customs.  We find evidence suggesting, however, that physician practices may respond more significantly upon a substantive alteration of this system altogether — i.e., upon a change in the clinical standards to which physicians are held in the first instance.  The literature to date has largely failed to appreciate the substantive nature of liability rules and may thus be drawing limited inferences based solely on our experiences to date with damage-caps and related reforms.


January 9, 2014 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

OT: Jan Levine Earns Legal Writing's Highest Awards

We are delighted to congratulate Jan Levine, associate professor and director of Duquesne University's Legal Research & Writing program. Jan became the first professor to win, in the same year, the AALS Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning & Research Award and the Thomas F. Blackwell Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Legal Writing. As former Freedman Fellows at Temple Law, the four of us owe Jan a substantial debt for his training and assistance in entering the academy. Jan modeled for us the demand for excellence to which we aspire. It is gratifying to see his worth recognized by others.

--Sheila, Chris, Meredith Miller (ContractsProf), and Byron Stier (Mass Torts Prof)

January 8, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

British Libel Law Tightened

Walter Olson at Overlawyered reports that recent reforms tightening British libel law took effect on January 1st.  


January 7, 2014 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Lawyer Has Tortious Interference Claim Against Former Client

Really interesting case from Indiana at the intersection of torts and professional responsibility -

A lawyer was a partner in a firm.   Firm client wanted to buy land that the partner owned.  Partner refused but entered into a land use agreement with the firm client.   There were disagreements over the land use contract.  Firm client met with firm partners and threatened to take its business elsewhere unless the dispute was resolved with the partner.   The firm  removed the partner from the firm....

The partner subsequently filed a tortious interference agasint the firm client, and the Indiana Court of Appeals has just held that the partner can proceed.   BNA has a full report on the case.


January 6, 2014 in Current Affairs, Teaching Torts | 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)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Oliphant Steps Down at IETL

After 5 successful years of leading the Institute for European Tort Law, Ken Oliphant is stepping down at the end of 2013 to resume his position as Professor of Tort Law at the University of Bristol.  Ernst Karner, of the University of Vienna, will act as interim Director.  Congratulations and best wishes to both!


December 26, 2013 in TortsProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 20, 2013

ATRA Releases "Judicial Hellholes" List

The American Tort Reform Association has released its annual "Judicial Hellholes" list. California tops the list followed by Louisiana and New York City.  The ABA Journal and Forbes have more.



December 20, 2013 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

NC: Alienation of Affections Suit Against Interloper, Online Dating Site

A North Carolina man has filed a suit alleging alienation of affections not only against the man who had an affair with his wife, but also against Ashley Madison, an online dating site that markets to people interested in affairs.  The North Carolina legislature restricted heart balm actions to natural persons in 2009, but the plaintiff's lawyer argues that the actions leading to the breakup of the marriage occurred in 2007 and the old law applies.  The Charlotte Observer has the details.

Via Olson/Overlawyered.


December 18, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New York Rejects Medical Monitoring

Commentary by George Conk at Torts Today.

Updated:  And from Mark Behrens at Point of Law.


December 17, 2013 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Toyota May Settle Unintended Acceleration Cases

Ken Bensinger at the LA Times reports that Toyota is engaged in settlement talks over the sudden unintended acceleration (SUA) cases that resulted in death or injury.   (Toyota previously settled the economic loss cases, and the court approved that settlement last July).   Our friend Byron Stier, over at Mass Torts Profs, is quoted in the article.


December 16, 2013 in Current Affairs, MDLs and Class Actions | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 13, 2013

MO: Bill Would Restore $350K Med Mal Noneconomic Damages Cap

Rep. Eric Burlison has pre-filed a bill that would reinstate a noneconomic damages cap of $350,000 on med mal cases in Missouri.  In 2012, the state supreme court struck down a similar cap.  The Missouri House passed a cap last year, but it died in the Senate.  KMSU has the story.


December 13, 2013 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Issue of JETL

Journal of European Tort Law, 3/2013
Table of Contents

 Imgard Griss‘How Judges Think: Judicial Reasoning in Tort Cases from a Comparative Perspective’(2013) 3 JETL 247

 Donal Nolan‘Damage in the English Law of Negligence’(2013) 3 JETL259

Patrick O’Callaghan‘False Privacy and Information Games’ (2013) 3 JETL282

 Case Commentaries:

 Paula Giliker‘Vicarious Liability “On the Move”: The English Supreme Court andEnterprise Liability’ (2013) 3 JETL 306

Quinten De Raedt‘Loss of a Chance in Medical Malpractice: A Double Application’ (2013) 3 JETL 314

Review Article:

Joseph A Page‘D Dobbs/ P Hayden/E Bublick, The Law of Torts, Practitioner Treatise Series’(2013) 3 JETL 328

Book Reviews:

Peter Stockenhuber‘G Messen,Der Anspruch auf Schadenersatz bei Verstössen gegen EU-Kartellrecht (2013) 2 JETL339

Olivier Moréteau‘François Terré (ed), Pour une réform du droit de la responsabilité civile, Collection: Thémes’(2013) 3 JETL 342

Jane Wright 'A Fenyes/ E Karner/ E Steiner (eds), Tort Law in the Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights’ (2013) 3 JETL 347

Christophe Quézel-Ambrunaz‘R Goldberg (ed), Perspectives on Causation’ (2013) 3 JETL 351

Christina Eberl-Borges‘Peter North, Civil Liability for Animals’ (2013) 3 JETL 356


December 12, 2013 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Fore!" - Golfer Liability in New Jersey

A New Jersey Superior Court reaffirmed that only the golfer taking the shot is legally responsibile for yelling "fore" for an errant shot.  In Corino v. Duffy, the court held that two bystanders - friends of the golfer hitting the ball and part of the threesome - were not liable  for the golfer's shot striking the plaintiff in the right eye.  A copy of the decision is available here.  The Legal Blitz has more on the decision.


December 11, 2013 in Current Affairs, Sports, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 9, 2013

European Tort Law 2012

Ken Oliphant and Barbara C. Steininger have edited European Tort Law Yearbook 2012.  It contains reports on tort law developments in 28 European countries and in the law of the EU. As a bonus, there is an additional report from Israel. 

Amongst the legislative highlights in European tort law in 2012 were a new Civil Code in the Czech Republic and a new German Act on Patients Rights. Amongst the most interesting cases reported were contradictory decisions on liability for wrongful life in Italy (where the Supreme Court allowed a wrongful life claim for the first time) and Israel (where the Supreme Court in Hammer v Amit reversed its prior decision in Zeitsov v Katz, 40(2) PD 85(1986) and rejected wrongful life claims under Israeli law). Supreme Courts in France, Latvia and Switzerland answered in the affirmative the controversial question whether a legal entity may claim damages for non-pecuniary loss suffered in consequence of the violation of its personal rights.

December 9, 2013 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"Abnormal Interviews" - Professor Bill Janssen

Abnormal Use continues its series of interviews with products liability professors and practitioners with an interview with my colleague, Bill Janssen.  


December 5, 2013 in TortsProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)