TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Friday, October 12, 2018

Smith on the Structure of Remedial Law

Stephen Smith has posted to SSRN The Structure of Remedial Law.  The abstract provides:

Notwithstanding its practical and, at least in the common law, historical importance, remedial law as a legal category has attracted little attention. The kinds of broad questions that courts and commentators regularly ask about the scope, nature, and aims of substantive law subjects such as contract law and tort law have not been asked about remedial law. This paper addresses this gap. It focuses on four fundamental questions about remedial law’s structure: (1) What is a remedy? (2) Why does the law provide remedies? (3) When are remedies available? and (4) What kinds of remedies are available?

October 12, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Bell on Thacker v. TVA

Bernard Bell has posted companion pieces to the Yale Journal on Regulation's "Notice & Comment."  His introduction captures the theme:

On September 28, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Thacker v. Tennessee Valley Authority (“Thacker v. TVA”).  Order, Dkt. 17-1201, 2018 WL 4650382.  (The docket sheet is available here.)  The case raises the question of whether an implied discretionary function exception, akin to that in the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”), 28 U.S.C. §2680(a), bars a negligence claim against the TVA.  Many readers of this blog probably spend little mental energy on the FTCA, or the interaction between tort liability and Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) judicial review.  (And you probably expend even less contemplating the TVA or any other government corporation.)  This series of two posts previews Thacker and discusses the complementary relationship between ex post tort liability and ex ante judicial review.

Part I is here, and part II is here.

October 11, 2018 in Current Affairs, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Simons on Self-Defense and Necessity

Ken Simons has posted to SSRN Self-Defense, Necessity, and the Duty to Compensate, in Law and Morality.  The abstract provides:

What is the proper scope of the right to self-defense in law and morality? How does this right compare to the privilege of necessity? This essay addresses these issues with a particular focus on legal and moral duties of compensation. First, the essay examines how Anglo-American tort law would likely address the defender’s liability in a variety of scenarios, including disproportionate, excessive, and unnecessary force; unreasonable and reasonable mistakes; and use of force against innocent aggressors. It next considers whether private necessity principles that apply to appropriations of private property also apply to actors who intentionally infringe or violate rights of bodily integrity. The essay then turns to the privilege of public necessity, which generally is not, but perhaps should be, accompanied by a duty to compensate, and its relationship to rights of self-defense. The next section explores mistake, justification, and excuse, and considers the question of whether an innocent victim should receive compensation from a reasonably mistaken defender. The final section explains that the notion of conditional fault helps make sense of a strict liability duty to compensate.

September 27, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Schwarcz on the Constitutionality of U.S. Insurance Regulation

Daniel Schwarcz has posted to SSRN Is U.S. Insurance Regulation Constitutional?.  The abstract provides:

Insurance regulation is ostensibly the primary domain of the states. In practice, however, the most important and powerful entity in insurance regulation is not a state at all, but a non-profit corporation known as the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, or NAIC. Much of the NAIC’s power lies in its production of various “handbooks” and “manuals” that have the force of law because they are incorporated by reference in state insurance codes. Under this statutory scheme, when the NAIC updates or changes its various manuals, handbooks, or accounting forms, it also changes state insurance regulation. Because the NAIC is a private entity, it produces these various materials that have the force of law without being bound by any safeguards that ordinarily accompany the production of regulation, whether at the state or federal level. Moreover, the NAIC uses its unique accreditation program to directly pressure state legislatures to delegate this authority to it. This Article argues that this scheme violates basic separation of powers and non-delegation principles embedded in every state Constitution. Under any reasonable version of these principles, the delegation of state regulatory authority to a private entity that directly pressures legislatures to make this delegation and whose actions are not reviewable through any formal judicial or administrative process is unconstitutional. Recognizing this conclusion has the potential to improve state insurance regulation by increasing the accountability of state regulators and the NAIC. But it also carries the risk of undermining state insurance regulation by frustrating efforts to promote uniform national standards. However, the Article suggests that state legislatures can enact reforms that simultaneously remedy the unconstitutional structure of state insurance regulation while preserving the many practical benefits that flow from delegating production of regulatory standards to a single, national entity like the NAIC. In particular, they can establish through an interstate compact an entity that is truly independent from state insurance regulators and that is empowered to review the NAIC’s production of regulatory materials that have the force of law.

(Via Solum/LTB)

September 21, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 17, 2018

JOTWELL Torts: Simons on Oberdiek on Risk

At JOTWELL, Ken Simons reviews John Oberdiek's Imposing Risk:  A Normative Framework

September 17, 2018 in Books, Scholarship, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Duff on the Adequacy of Workers' Compensation

Michael Duff has posted to SSRN How the U.S. Supreme Court Deemed the Workers' Compensation Grand Bargain 'Adequate' Without Defining Adequacy.  The abstract provides:

During the second and third decades of the twentieth century, the U. S. Supreme Court issued a handful of opinions rejecting 14th Amendment constitutional challenges by employers to implementation of workers’ compensation statutes in the United States. Unknown to many, the statutes were largely the fruit of privately-sponsored investigations, principally by the Russell Sage Foundation and the National Association of Manufacturers, of European workers’ compensation systems during the first decade of the twentieth century. Some of those systems had been in existence since the 1870s and 1880s, and many employers preferred them to newly-emerging American employer liability statutes that retained tort liability while eliminating many or all affirmative defenses. The Minnesota Employees’ Compensation Commission and the National Civic Federation (NCF) catalyzed the national conversation on workers’ compensation from 1909-1911, and it was an NCF lawyer who was substantially responsible for a draft that became the first workers’ compensation statute upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as constitutional. Contrary to the view held by some, the foundational Supreme Court opinions constitutionally authorizing the workers’ compensation “Grand Bargain” — statutory benefits for tort damages — set no workers’ compensation benefit floor. The article parses the opinions to emphasize the point, and then goes on to explore the context of what seems a strange omission. Ultimately, the article concludes that the Court “deferred,” sub silentio, to the private bodies of experts who had been investigating, reporting, and deliberating upon the European systems. The difficulty with the Court’s approach is that little has been left to posterity explaining what scale of employee benefits the Court might have deemed inadequate or unreasonable as an exchange for employee tort damages. The pregnant silence on federal constitutional boundaries continues to impact current discussions on limits to legislative reductions of workers’ compensation benefits. This absence of an explicit benefit floor should give pause to proponents of schemes seeking to export the workers’ compensation model to other legal regimes.

September 14, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Rustad & Koenig on a Global Data Privacy Standard

Mike Rustad & Tom Koenig have posted to SSRN Towards a Global Data Privacy Standard.  The abstract provides:

On May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in the twenty-eight countries of the European Union and the EFTA countries, effective creating European-wide data protection law modernized for the age of the Internet. One of the key aspects of the GDPR is that it applies to non-European entities that processes personal data of EU consumers. Unlike the Data Directive of 1995 that it supplanted, the GDPR applies to U.S data controllers outside the EU. Many academic and industry commentators claim that the GDPR will drive a wider gulf between U.S. and EU data protection law because of the GDPR’s aggressive extraterritorial rules.

This Article rebuts the widespread assertion that recent EU updates to its data protection law will drive a disruptive wedge between EU and U.S. data privacy laws. Instead, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) creates convergences between EU/U.S. data protection law that overshadows the divergences. The GDPR is said to be a foremost example of the Brussels Effect because it unilaterally imposes EU privacy law on the United States. We acknowledge a Brussels Effect on U.S. privacy law but there is also an overlooked D.C. Effect reflected in many GDPR provisions. The European Commission imported many privacy rights first developed in the U.S. into this wide-ranging EU-wide legislation. U.S. privacy law had already recognized the duty of the processor to obtain consent, a data subject’s right to access, data minimization, and the right to notice in the aftermath of a data security breach.

The GDPR adopts deterrence-based fines and other long-established U.S. tort law remedies. U.S. tort concepts such as collective redress, wealth-based punishment, arming data subjects with the right to initiate public enforcement are recognized for the first time in European history in this comprehensive statute. Under the GDPR, the EU Commission adopted privacy by design and security breach notification obligations, innovations first instituted in the U.S. The net effect is a bilateral transatlantic privacy convergence, rather than a divide, which is rapidly evolving into a global data protection standard. Nations around the world, some U.S. states, and the major U.S.-based data processors are instituting policies conforming to the GDPR. We argue that the GDPR has the potential to not only bring an end to the transatlantic data privacy wars, but to become the foundation of a worldwide “gold standard” for information privacy.

September 13, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Chamallas Asks "Will Tort Law Have its #MeToo Moment?"

Martha Chamallas has posted to SSRN Will Tort Law Have its #MeToo Moment?Presented at AALS in January and forthcoming in the Journal of Tort Law, the abstract provides:

Using tort law’s treatment of claims for domestic violence and sexual assault as examples, this essay identifies prominent features of a feminist historical approach to law to demonstrate how gender inequality is reproduced over time, despite changes in legal doctrine. When informed by feminist theory, history can function as a critique of past and present regimes of inequality, highlighting the various techniques of exclusion and marginalization that emerge to prevent law from redressing serious, recurring injuries suffered disproportionately by women. The essay explores two such techniques: sexual exceptionalism that treats gender-related torts differently than other harms and the adoption of ostensibly neutral rules that have a disparate impact on women and marginalized groups. The essay speculates as to whether the #MeToo movement can provide the momentum to produce a break from the past, particularly with respect to third-party claims holding employers and other institutional defendants responsible for sexualized harms.

September 12, 2018 in Conferences, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 7, 2018

Seymore on Damages for Wrongful Family Separation in Adoption

Malinda Seymore has posted to SSRN Adopting Civil Damages:  Wrongful Family Separation in Adoption.  The abstract provides:

Summer 2018 has been rocked by the Trump Administration’s new immigration policy of family separation at the U.S./Mexico border. Yet family separation is the prerequisite to every legal adoption. The circumstances are different, of course; in legal adoption, the biological parents have been provided with all the constitutional protections required in involuntary termination of parental rights, or they have voluntarily consented to family separation. But what happens when that family separation is wrongful, when the birth mother’s consent is not voluntary or when the birth father’s wishes to parent are ignored? In theory, the child can be returned to the birth parents when consent is invalid because of fraud, coercion or deceit. In actuality, courts are very reluctant to undo an adoption. How, then, to deter adoption agencies and workers from wrongfully separating birth parents and their children? Adoption agencies are not just social welfare institutions, but also businesses motivated by money. Lawsuits, as a cost of doing business, can affect their bottom line. The adoption industry has been responsive in the past to lawsuits from adoptive parents seeking money damages, which suggests that lawsuits from birth parents that affect the bottom line could incentivize better behavior from adoption agencies. This article explores possible tort causes of action available to birth parents, including a proposed new tort of wrongful family separation, with the long-term objective of changing adoption agency behavior, potentially transforming adoption practice.

September 7, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 31, 2018

Two by Engstrom on Trials

Nora Freeman Engstrom has posted to SSRN two pieces about trials.  First, The Diminished Trial.  The abstract provides:

Civil trials, many have noted, are going the way of the dodo bird. Federal courts conducted half as many civil trials in 2016 as they did in 1962, even while disposing of over five times as many civil cases. A similar trend is apparent in the states. Of course, this trajectory has not escaped scholarly attention. Barrels of ink have been spilled investigating, eulogizing, and variously, mourning or lauding, the “vanishing trial.” But, this is far from the whole story. This Article shifts the conversation to a different, though related, phenomenon: not the disappearance of the civil trial, but rather, its downsizing. I take as my point of departure two puzzling trends. First, since 1983, “protracted” trials, which is to say trials that last over 20 days, are way down. There were more than 100 such trials per year in the late 1980s, but in 2016, we only saw only 13. Second, over the same timespan, really short trials, which is to say trials lasting one day or less, are up. Indeed, starting in 2009, and every year since, the majority of all federal civil trials have wrapped up in only one day. This paper seeks to highlight these trends, which have so far escaped scholarly attention, and also to conduct a preliminary investigation into the potential causes and consequences.

Second, The Trouble with Trial Time Limits.  The abstract provides:

Civil trial rates are at an all-time low. Meanwhile, “trial time limits” — judicially imposed limits on the time litigants have to present their evidence at trial — seem to be at an all-time high. We have fewer trials than ever, yet we’re taking aggressive steps to curtail the few that we’ve got. This Article zeroes in on this paradox. It excavates time limits’ origins, tracks their rise, examines their administration, and raises deep questions about their fairness and utility. Trial time limits have, so far, been variously ignored or, alternatively, lauded, as a way to promote juror comprehension and as a tool to make trials cheaper and more efficient. Indeed, one court has gone so far as to call these restrictions “essential” to sensible docket management. This Article challenges that conventional story and cautions against time limits’ regular or reflexive application. In so doing, this Article seeks to begin a broader inquiry into how the American civil trial of the twenty-first century is not only disappearing; the scattered trials that remain are also changing, in subtle and hard-to-quantify but profoundly important ways.

August 31, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Engstrom on the Automobile's Legacy in Tort Law

Nora Freeman Engstrom has posted to SSRN When Cars Crash:  The Automobile's Tort Law Legacy.  The abstract provides:

Everyone understands that the invention of the automobile has had a profound effect on daily life in America. It has transformed our workplaces, altered our neighborhoods, and radically changed our environment. But cars have never been perfectly safe, and, as the years have passed, injuries and fatalities have mounted. This Article contends that, just as motor vehicles have remade our culture, these injuries and deaths — some 3.5 million fatalities and counting — have catalyzed fundamental changes in the contours, purposes, and limits of our law.

August 29, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Lytton on Tort Law and Food Safety

Tim Lytton has posted to SSRN Exposing Private Third-Party Food Safety Auditors to Civil Liability for Negligence:  Harnessing Private Law Norms to Regulate Private Governance.  The abstract provides:

In many industries, companies rely on private third-party audits to monitor their suppliers’ adherence to various standards. These audits are frequently paid for by the entity being audited, which creates a conflict of interest that incentivizes auditors to reduce the burden of audits by cutting corners and inflating audit scores. This article presents a case study of food safety audits in the fresh produce sector. It explains why large commercial buyers of fresh produce rely on private third-party audits paid for by growers despite the conflict of interest, and it argues that exposing auditors to civil liability for negligence would improve the rigor and reliability of these audits. The article concludes with a more general analysis of how the private law norms of duty and reasonable care imposed by civil liability can improve private governance.

August 28, 2018 in Food and Drink, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Citron on Sexual Privacy

Danielle Keats Citron has posted to SSRN Sexual Privacy.  The abstract provides:

Those who wish to expose, control, and distort the identities of women, minorities, and minors routinely do so by invading their privacy. People are secretly recorded in bedrooms and public bathrooms, and “up their skirts.” Victims are coerced into sharing nude photographs and filming sex acts under the threat of public disclosure. People’s nude images are posted online without permission. Machine-learning technology is used to create digitally manipulated “deep sex fake” videos that swap people’s faces into pornography.

At the heart of these abuses is an invasion of sexual privacy—the specific set of identity-enabling and equality-protecting rules and norms that protect access to and information about our bodies; intimate activities; and gender and sexual identities. Invasions of sexual privacy coerce visibility and invisibility, undermining identity formation, human dignity, and equal opportunity. More often, marginalized and subordinated communities shoulder the abuse.

This Article explores how sexual privacy works, and should work. It shows how the efficacy of traditional privacy law is waning just as digital technologies magnify the scale and scope of the harm. We need a comprehensive approach to sexual privacy that includes legislation and updated privacy tort law. This would allow us to see the structural impact of sexual privacy invasions and prompt us to consider the privacy-enhancing and privacy-invading aspects of market efforts.

August 27, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Wells on Qualified Immunity

Michael Wells has posted to SSRN Qualified Immunity after Ziglar v. Abbasi:  The Case for a Categorical Approach.  The abstract provides:

Qualified immunity protects officers from liability for damages unless they have violated clearly established rights, on the ground that it would be unfair and counterproductive to impose liability without notice of wrongdoing. In recent years, however, the Supreme Court has increasingly applied the doctrine to cases in which it serves little or no legitimate purpose. In Ziglar v. Abbasi, for example, the rights were clearly established but the Court held that the officers were immune due to lack of clarity on other issues in the case. Because holdings like Ziglar undermine the vindication of constitutional rights and the deterrence of violations, critics of immunity have called for its abolition. This article rejects both of these approaches. My thesis is that the availability of qualified immunity should depend on an assessment of costs and benefits, which vary depending on context. A better approach is to retain the basic doctrine but to identify categories of cases in which immunity should be denied, and others in which it should be strengthened.

August 23, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Lens on Tort Law's Devaluation of Stillbirth

Jill Wieber Lens has posted to SSRN Tort Law's Devaluation of Stillbirth.  The abstract provides:

In the United States, more than sixty-five babies die daily due to stillbirth—death of an unborn baby after twenty weeks of pregnancy but before birth. New medical research suggests that at least one fourth of those deaths are preventable with proper medical care. Stated differently, one fourth of stillbirths are due to medical malpractice. In almost all states, tort law provides recourse for mothers after the death of their children due to stillbirth. This Article uses feminist legal theory and empirical research of parents after stillbirth to demonstrate that tort law devalues stillbirth. That devaluation is due to the cognitive bias associating stillbirth with women. Historically, stillbirth only appeared in women’s claims for emotional distress. Instead of recognizing her child’s death, courts treated, and some courts continue to treat, stillbirth as just as a physical manifestation of the woman’s emotional distress. Even when modern courts recognize stillbirth as the death of a child, they still devalue that injury by characterizing the child as a nameless, genderless “fetus.” Also historically, courts were resistant to claims based on relational injuries, another injury stereotypically associated with women. Even though prenatal attachment theory demonstrates a parent-child relationship is lost in stillbirth, some courts are especially reluctant to recognize the relational injury in the context of death before birth. The cognitive bias associating stillbirth with women has also stunted the development of tort recourse for fathers, as it also will for non-biological parents. Fathers, the “forgotten bereaved,” are sometimes denied a claim or given a more limited claim. The remedy for this devaluation is a wrongful death claim for the death of a child—not just a fetus—available to both parents, including recovery for the relational injury. Tort law must also guard against possible undervaluation of the parents’ injury based on the supposed replaceability of children or the presence of other living children, and against damage caps’ mandatory undervaluation of the parents’ injury. The Article also explains how these reforms are supported by tort law theories, and explains that the wrongful death claim should be available for all stillbirths, not depending on viability. Last, the Article necessarily explains that tort law’s proper recognition of stillbirth poses no threat to the legality of abortion.

August 21, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 17, 2018

Hylton on Information Costs and Civil Litigation

Keith Hylton has posted to SSRN Information Costs and the Civil Justice System.  The abstract provides:

Litigation is costly because information is not free. Given that information is costly and perfect information prohibitively costly, courts will occasionally err. Finally, the fact that information is costly implies an unavoidable degree of informational asymmetry between disputants. This paper presents a model of the civil justice system that incorporates these features of the real world and probes its implications for compliance with the law, efficiency of law, accuracy in adjudication, trial outcome statistics, and the evolution of legal standards. The model’s claims are applied to and tested against the relevant empirical and legal literature.

August 17, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

JOTWELL Torts: Bublick on Abraham & Rabin on Autonomous Vehicles

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Fraley on Unintentional Nuisances

Jill Fraley has posted to SSRN Liability for Unintentional Nuisances.  The abstract provides:

The Second Restatement of Torts aligned private nuisance law squarely with the law of torts by altering the elements of liability to require 1) intent, 2) negligence, or 3) abnormally dangerous activities. The Restatement then concluded: “an actor is no longer liable for accidental interferences with the use and enjoyment of land.”

Nearly forty years later, textbooks tend to teach the Restatement approach, but the majority of courts have never adopted this switch in the intent requirement for nuisance. In a number of states, accidental interferences remain actionable under nuisance law. The old approach to nuisance is not dying away quietly. In fact, in the new millennium courts have often gone to some trouble to explain and emphasize their resistance—and for good reason. This article defends the positions of those courts and argues that the Restatement got it wrong.

While the Restatement was correct that there had been “confusion” in the case law, the confusion was not about the conduct versus the interest invaded, but rather the muddling of the law of negligence with the law of nuisance. This article argues that nuisance was historically unique in tort law, because of its special role in protecting property rights. In other words, nuisance historically had distinct features addressed to the special situation of land. Most importantly, nuisance protected the right to exclude in a way that no other cause of action did. The Restatement’s change then diminished our rights to private property.

July 31, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chesney & Citron on "Deep Fake" Technology

Robert Chesney & Danielle Keats Citron have posted to SSRN Deep Fakes:  A Looming Challenge for Privacy, Democracy, and National Security.  The abstract provides:

Harmful lies are nothing new. But the ability to distort reality has taken an exponential leap forward with “deep fake” technology. This capability makes it possible to create audio and video of real people saying and doing things they never said or did. Machine learning techniques are escalating the technology’s sophistication, making deep fakes ever more realistic and increasingly resistant to detection. Deep-fake technology has characteristics that enable rapid and widespread diffusion, putting it into the hands of both sophisticated and unsophisticated actors.

While deep-fake technology will bring with it certain benefits, it also will introduce many harms. The marketplace of ideas already suffers from truth decay as our networked information environment interacts in toxic ways with our cognitive biases. Deep fakes will exacerbate this problem significantly. Individuals and businesses will face novel forms of exploitation, intimidation, and personal sabotage. The risks to our democracy and to national security are profound as well.

Our aim is to provide the first in-depth assessment of the causes and consequences of this disruptive technological change, and to explore the existing and potential tools for responding to it. We survey a broad array of responses, including: the role of technological solutions; criminal penalties, civil liability, and regulatory action; military and covert-action responses; economic sanctions; and market developments. We cover the waterfront from immunities to immutable authentication trails, offering recommendations to improve law and policy and anticipating the pitfalls embedded in various solutions.

July 31, 2018 in Scholarship, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 30, 2018

Baker & Silver on Liability Insurance and Patient Safety

Tom Baker & Charles Silver have posted to SSRN How Liability Insurers Protect Patients and Improve Safety.  The abstract provides:

Forty years after the publication of the first systematic study of adverse medical events, there is greater access to information about adverse medical events and increasingly widespread acceptance of the view that patient safety requires more than vigilance by well-intentioned medical professionals. In this essay, we describe some of the ways that medical liability insurance organizations contributed to this transformation, and we catalog the roles that those organizations play in promoting patient safety today. Whether liability insurance in fact discourages providers from improving safety or encourages them to protect patients from avoidable harms is an empirical question that a survey like this one cannot resolve. But, as we show, insurers make serious efforts to reduce their losses by encouraging and helping health care providers to do better in at least six ways. (1) Insurers identify subpar providers in ways that provide the opportunity for other institutions to act. (2) Insurers provide incentives for providers by charging premiums that are based on risk and by refusing to insure providers who are too high risk. (3) Insurers accumulate data for root cause analysis. (4) Insurers conduct loss prevention inspections of medical facilities. (5) Insurers educate providers about legal oversight and steps that they can take to manage their risks. (6) Finally, insurers provide financial and human capital support to patient safety organizations.

July 30, 2018 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)