Thursday, January 12, 2012
We traveled to Orlando last weekend. My wife and I ran the Disney Half Marathon, and then she ran the Disney Full Marathon the next day, because she is Capital-C Crazy. And amazing.
But first we went to LegoLand, which reminded me of this excellent (if nitpickable) Lego stop-motion telling of Palsgraf. I showed it in my Torts class last night:
We also went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a remarkable theme park within the already-remarkable Islands of Adventure. I particularly enjoyed the way they even themed the warning signs, perhaps increasing the number of people who will actually read them:
Thursday, December 8, 2011
In my Torts class, we discuss consent to intentional torts in, among other contexts, sports -- in particular hockey. Given the interesting evident difference between what is technically prohibited and what is generally accepted as part of the game, it's a nice foundation for a conversation. Add to that the New York Times extensively-researched look at hockey through the life, and death, of "enforcer" Derek Boogaard. Certainly worth a read.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Summers v. Tice is an iconic first-year Torts case. Kyle Graham (Santa Clara), guest blogging at Concurring Opinions, visited the California State Archive and reviewed the old case file. His research provides interesting information on the case background:
Moreover, Tice argued that but for the plaintiff’s own negligence, he could have identified his assailant. Specifically, Tice testified that he had been using No. 6 shot, whereas Simonson had been using No. 7½ shot. The two pellets are of slightly different size, and capable of distinction. Summers himself testified that, although the shot had been given to him after its removal, he could not find it when he looked for the pellets at his home. These facts, if accepted, place a very different spin on the case. One could no longer say that the defendants were in a better position than the plaintiff was to identify who fired the injurious shot, which of course was a key ingredient to the Summers decision.
Friday, October 21, 2011
The Georgia Supreme Court agreed to take up a case challenging the limitations of liability for landowners when a person is injured by a wild animal. The details of the case:
In October 2007, 83-year-old Gwyneth Williams was house-sitting for her daughter and son-in-law in their Savannah-area suburb while the couple were in Europe.
Neighbors found Williams floating dead in one of the many lagoons that dot the swampy coastal development, known as The Landings. A medical examiner determined that an alligator had bitten off Williams' forearms, her hands and her right foot. A trapper eventually found an 8-foot alligator, killed it and found Williams' body parts inside the creature's stomach.
Williams's survivors brought suit, challenging the doctrine that landowners are not liable for wild animals unless the landowner has domesticated or controlled the animals.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
In early 2010, a SeaWorld trainer, Dawn Brancheau, drowned during a public session ("Dinner with Shamu"). Among the members of the audience were Suzanne and Todd Connell and their son, who all witnessed the drowning and were, understandably, traumatized by the experience. The Connells filed suit against SeaWorld on behalf of their son (and, I think, themselves) for both intentional and negligence infliction of emotional distress.
Last week, a Florida judge dismissed their claims with prejudice, finding that they had failed to allege outrageous conduct by the park (for the intentional claim) and that they had failed to show any precedent supporting a negligence claim for purely emotional distress when the plaintiff was "a complete stranger to the injured party."
Since we're starting IIED in the next week or so in my Torts class, and the boundaries of emotional distress claims generally are a foundational theme to the class, it's a compelling set of facts for me -- and perhaps for you.
I'm trying to get a copy of the opinion and will post it here if so.
Here's the opinion: Download SeaWorldIIED [PDF].
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
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:
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
- 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.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
The element of intent in battery, assault, and other intentional torts is one of the trickier concepts to teach.
Now, via the Facebook page for the finest theaters in the land, Alamo Drafthouse, comes the story of Dale Fout and Brenda Godwin, who were both at a Dallas area theater (not the Alamo).Fout received a text and looked at it during the movie. Godwin, annoyed, tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to put it away. Fout responded...strongly, we'll say, telling her never to touch him and calling the police who, at his request, issued a citation for assault.
While you contemplate whether the facts would support a civil claim for battery, enjoy the Alamo's outstanding (if not for kids) presentation of a voicemail it received from a woman who was kicked out for texting during a movie:
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Okay, actually Harvard made all the exams available, but we care about those in Torts. Here's the link. Thanks to Kyle Graham (Santa Clara) for the tip. Kyle also notes the earlier exams focused more on intentional torts than negligence, which doesn't surprise me given the character of tort law at that time.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Via Day on Torts comes this California appellate court decision (PDF) addressing a question frequently addressed in Torts books regarding consent and so on -- the liability of a partner for transmission of an STD in an otherwise-consensual sexual relationship. The opinion, while affirming liability for the plaintiff, also reduces the damages.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
I am heading to Cincinnati with the Western New England team for the Rendigs National Products Liability Moot Court competition, so I haven't had a chance to get posts together. But (a) you might enjoy reading the problem and briefs, and (b) I'd encourage you to bring a team in the future if you don't already. It is a well-run competition with generally solid problems (often reflecting very current issues) and judges.
(And I don't just say that because we won the national championship in 2009.)
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Adam Epstein (Central Michigan College of Business) has posted to SSRN Teaching Torts with Sports. The abstract provides:
The purpose of this paper is to offer a pedagogical road map for an alternative way to engage students when arriving at the torts portion of the business law or legal environment course. It is designed to encourage utilizing sports cases and sport-related videos when teaching torts which can be effective and energizing. My research demonstrates that the prominence of sports related tort cases and examples are much more apparent in the negligence and intentional tort categories than in products liability or strict liability. More specifically, an effective way to relate the concept of negligence in sports is in the context of flying objects such as foul balls, bats, and hockey pucks. Incorporating intentional torts and sports usually begins with hits after the play, a pitcher intentionally hitting the batter, and the incidents of violence involving participants, fans, referees, coaches and parents. One of the best examples of products liability is the safety debate between using wooden baseball bats in professional baseball and the metal or aluminum bats in college baseball. Strict liability involving ultra-hazardous activities has its place for discussion in sports torts, but the breadth of litigation on the subject is clearly the least common of the four major tort categories rendering it virtually non-existent. Instructors are given hints as to how to engage students with sports torts regardless of their educational generation. Contemporary and classic cases are provided as examples.
Monday, August 16, 2010
It's "back to school" week here at Charleston. As we all gear up for another school year, I thought I'd pose a question: Are you trying anything different this year?
A couple of my colleagues are experimenting with lap-top free zones in their 1L classes. I decided not to join the experiment mainly because we require students to purchase lap tops and it seemed inconsistent for me to then say "but not in my class." I am, however, giving a graded mid-term for the first time in Professional Responsibility. (I give my 1Ls an ungraded mid-term).
So, back to the question, are you trying anything different in your classes this year?
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Seriously. From the New York Times:
One day next month every student at Loyola Law School Los Angeles will awake to a higher grade point average. But it’s not because they are all working harder. The school is retroactively inflating its grades, tacking on 0.333 to every grade recorded in the last few years. The goal is to make its students look more attractive in a competitive job market.
Thanks to Kate Schaffzin for the tip.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Anita Bernstein (Brooklyn) has posted to SSRN Teaching Torts: Rivalry as Pedagogy. The abstract provides:
This contribution to a Tort Law Academic Workshop considers the ‘twin themes’ pervading torts pedagogy in the twenty-first century: (1) teaching torts for global practice and (2) teaching the common law in an age of statutes. Manifested at both transnational and national levels, the two themes have in common what may be understood as rivalries, where contrary rules and stances compete for power. The article explores illustrations of this competition that emerge in an American torts classroom, with attention to the interest that a ‘pedagogy of rivalry’ might hold for torts teachers and scholars working within common law systems outside the United States.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Never operate your speakerphone while driving," warns a label on a product called "Drive 'N' Talk." A motorized go-cart helpfully warns consumers that "this product moves when used." A bottle of swine growth supplement called "Piglet Blast" cautions, "For animal use only." The Bluetooth headset alerts its users that "use of a headset that covers both ears will impair your ability to hear other sounds." And a pair of swim goggles alerts users to the risk of pulling them away from the face, lest they "spring back and cause injury."
If you wish to use these in class, you can download pictures of the products here.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
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.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
From Howard Wasserman (FIU) comes news of a torts visitor opening at Florida International University in Miami:
Florida International University College of Law invites
applications from candidates for one or more visiting
faculty positions beginning in Fall 2010. Areas of
curricular preference include Property, Criminal Law,
Torts, Environmental Law, And Trusts and Estates. Visits
could be for either the fall or spring semester or for the
ABOUT FIU COLLEGE OF LAW:
Part of Miami's public research university, the College of
Law is a dynamic urban law school with approximately 600
students. FIU College of Law was established in 2000,
enrolled its first class in 2002, and currently has 30
full-time faculty members. In the spring of 2007, the FIU
College of Law moved into a new state-of-the-art building
at the heart of the main university campus. Over the past
two years, our FIU on-campus community has been enriched
through the addition of a new medical school and the
construction of the Frost Art Museum.
The FIU community and the College of Law are strongly
committed to the pursuit of excellence and the goal of
ensuring opportunities within the legal profession for
individuals who represent different groups as defined by
race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic
background, age, disability, national origin, and religion.
Applicants should have a J.D. degree; applicants with
additional advanced degrees are also encouraged to apply.
Applicants must possess a strong commitment to teaching and
a record or the promise of outstanding scholarship.
Applicants interested in joining the FIU College of Law
faculty as a visiting faculty member should send a cover
letter expressing interest and a resume to:
CONTACT: Associate Dean Joelle Moreno
Chair - Faculty Appointments Committee
Florida International University
College of Law
11200 S.W. 8th Street
Miami, FL 33199
You may also send application materials electronically to
For more information, please visit our website at:
Florida International University encourages applications
from candidates who would continue to enhance the diversity
of our College of Law faculty and university community and
does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national
origin, ancestry, sex, disability, religion, age, sexual
orientation or veteran status in its education and
employment programs or activities. FIU is also a member of
the State University System and an Equal Opportunity, Equal
Access, Affirmative Action Employer.