TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

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.

- SBS

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Here's One for Class: Heavy Grocery Bag Caused Woman's Death?

This is a great one for your class on causation:

The ABA Journal reports that a man has sued Wal-Mart for negligence in training its employees on how to bag groceries, as well as the plastic bag manufacturer, for the death of his wife.  Yes, his wife allegedly died from a negligently packed plastic grocery bag.  According to the Journal, the plaintiff alleges that the Wal-Mart bagger "overstuffed" the bag, which broke on the way to the car, which caused the groceries to fall on his wife's toe, which caused a cut, which caused an infection, which led to his wife's death.

Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the alert.

- SBS

September 10, 2013 in Current Affairs, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 30, 2013

NJ Court of Appeals Finds Remote Texter Can Be Held Liable for Distracted Driver's Crash

The ABA Journal reports that the Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court has held that a remote texter can be liable for injuries caused when the text-recipient has a car accident, but only if the texter knew that the recipient was driving and reading texts while driving.

A copy of the decision is available here

Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the alert. 

- SBS

August 30, 2013 in Current Affairs, Teaching Torts, TortsProfs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The First Day of Torts Class

Yesterday I taught the first Torts class of the year.  I always love starting it all over from the beginning and the promise of a fresh bunch of students.  On the first day, I cover:  1. what's a tort?  2.  what are the types of torts? and 3. why do we have torts?.  I would do this regardless of which casebook I was using.   How do others use the first day?  Also, this is the first time I am teaching a one-semester, four-credit course instead of a two-semester, five-credit course.  Thoughts on the differences?

--CJR  

August 29, 2013 in Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bystander-of-a-Bystander Duty to Warn

Deborah J. LaFetra has an informative post at Pacific Legal Foundation on the Maryland Court of Appeals' decision in Georgia-Pacific v. Farrar.  This, of course, is the "bystander of a bystander" asbestos case, where the grandaughter of a worker who worked near another worker who worked with asbestos-products sued for her mesothelioma.  The Court of Appeals rejected the duty to warn.   

- SBS

August 9, 2013 in Current Affairs, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Condo/Co-Op Liability Following Hurricane Sandy

The New York Law Journal has an interesting story about negligence suits filed against Condo and Co-Op Associations following Hurricane Sandy.

Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the alert.

- SBS

May 14, 2013 in Current Affairs, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Can a texter be liable for sending text and distracting driver?

The ABA Law Journal reports on an novel theory being tested in the New Jersey appellate courts:  Does sending a text to someone you know is driving create tort liability?    The plaintiffs were injured by a driver who was distracted by a text message.  In a twist, the plaintiffs sued both the driver and the sender of the text message.  The plaintiffs argued that "the court should impose a duty of care on those who know the recipient is both behind the wheel and likely to be reading texts while driving."  In response, the defendant-texter has argued that she could not control when the message is read.   Let's see what the New Jersey appellate court decides.

- SBS

May 13, 2013 in Current Affairs, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Concise Restatement of Torts, Third Edition

Ellen Bublick (Arizona) has compiled The Concise Restatement of Torts (3d ed.) for the ALI.  The book draws on 5 projects from the Restatement (Third) of Torts and is organized like many first-year casebooks.  The Concise Restatement of Torts is under 400 pages, was published on earlier this week, and is available through ALI here.

I have never used a supplement in my Torts course.  I have recommended several secondary sources (and will continue to do so).  However, I taught Contracts for the first time last year and found a supplement useful in that course.  Based on that experience, I decided a supplement would help my Torts students as well.  I have been looking around for the right Torts supplement, and this is it.  Virtually every topic I cover in my two-semester course is in The Concise Restatement of Torts.

--CJR

April 3, 2013 in Books, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Explosion in Chemistry Class

Last week, a local middle school chemistry class ended in an explosion.  Seven people were injured and two were transported via helicopter to John Hopkins.  Fortunately, all seven are now out of the hospital.  The chemistry teacher is reputed to be extremely cautious, and it is not yet clear what happened to cause the explosion.  The Patriot News (Harrisburg) has an article, including contributions from Widener TortsProf Randy Lee, about the legal issues in suing over such an incident.

Those of you struggling to write an exam might consider this as the basis for a question.  By tweaking the facts a bit, you can test negligence, contrib, assumption of risk, battery, sovereign immunity, etc.

--CJR

 

December 5, 2012 in Current Affairs, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kaye's Products Textbook

Carolina Academic Press is publishing Products Liability Law: Cases, Commentary, and Conundra by Tim Kaye.  Here is the blurb:

Products liability law is often confusing because it is in a state of constant flux as it confronts a number of challenges. Some such challenges are well known, such as the battle over the comparative merits of the Second and Third Restatements of Torts. Other equally important challenges have, however, been overlooked by other texts, such as the growing use of bankruptcy protection laws to limit the consequences of supplying defective products (as in the recent bailout-supported cases of General Motors and Chrysler), and this book sets out to rectify such omissions.

While other books leave the reader to sink or swim in a swamp of apparently contradictory doctrine, Products Liability Law lays out from the beginning the five elements common to all products liability claims. It then builds on this foundation by tackling each new area of the law in a lucid and reader-friendly manner, while explaining how each doctrine relates to the politico-economic and historical context in which the law operates.

Supplementing the text with numerous original flowcharts, tables, and other diagrams—as well as asking thoughtful questions along the way—this book charts a careful and comprehensible course through the often tempestuous battleground of products liability law.

--CJR

September 27, 2012 in Books, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.

--CJR

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

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Perfect for a First Year Torts Exam"

On Monday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certified three questions to the Washington Supreme Court in a caes "perfect for a first year torts exam."  McKown v. Simon Property Group Inc. (pdf) involved a shooting at the Tacoma Mall in 2005.  The plaintiff, a store employee at the mall, was injured and sued the mall owner.   The Ninth Circuit certified three questions concerning the scope of the mall owner's duty to protect a mall employee from the criminal acts of a third party:

1) Does Washington adopt Restatement (Second) of Torts § 344 (1965), including comments d and f, as controlling law?
2) To create a genuine issue of material fact as to the foreseeability of the harm resulting from a third party's criminal act when the defendant did not know of the dangerous propensities of the individual responsible for the criminal act, must a plaintiff show previous acts of similar violence on the premises, or can the plaintiff establish reasonably foreseeable harm through other evidence?
3) If proof of previous acts of similar violence is required, what are the characteristics which determine whether the previous acts are indeed similar?

Courthouse News Service has more on the case.

- SBS

August 7, 2012 in Current Affairs, 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).

--CJR

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mom Sues Justin Bieber For Hearing Loss

An Oregon mother filed suit last week against the singer Justin Bieber for hearing loss allegedly caused by the "frenzy of screams" that Bieber incited in his young fans at his 2010 Portland concert.   The complaint alleges that Bieber exacerbated the noise by flying over the crowd in a metal gondola.  TMZ has more, including video of the gondola if you are interested.

I'd think this would make a good assumption of the risk hypo in class. I mean concert goers know concerts are loud, right?

- SBS

July 17, 2012 in Current Affairs, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

ADR Resources for Torts Courses

The ABA’s Legal Education, ADR and Problem Solving (LEAPS) Project has developed some materials to help law school faculty incorporate some instruction in practical problem-solving in various courses.  Many of the ideas would require little or no additional time for instructors or students.  For example, when discussing selected cases in doctrinal courses, faculty can frame questions in the context of client interviews or counseling or negotiation between lawyers instead of appellate arguments. 

The project has also assembled panels of consultants in eight subject areas to provide advice and materials specific to those subjects.  Torts is one of the subjects included.  

The website has a lot of useful information about teaching techniques generally and links to other resources:  http://leaps.uoregon.edu/

Thanks to Sarah Cole (Ohio State) for the tip.

--CJR

June 19, 2012 in Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rapper Brawl Turns Into Lawsuits

If you like to use current events in your class, this might provide some good hypos:  Rappers Chris Brown and Drake were involved in an altercation at a SoHo nightclub.   Bystanders apparently were injured in the melee, and one now plans to sue.   

Details at NY Daily News.

- SBS

June 19, 2012 in Current Affairs, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Libel Suit Over Fake Facebook Page

A Georgia middle school student has sued two classmates (along with their parents) for libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress based on a fake Facebook page that the classmates created in the student's name.  According to the Daily Report,

The lawsuit has helped [the student's attorney Natalie] Woodward achieve one important change for her clients—getting the page dropped from Facebook. Woodward made arrangements for Alex to tell her story on CNN this past Saturday morning with her lawyer. After they left the TV studio, Woodward said, Facebook called CNN to get Woodward's contact information. Three hours after the CNN segment aired, the fake Facebook page disappeared from the website.

Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the alert.  

- SBS

April 30, 2012 in Current Affairs, Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How Do You Use the BP Gulf Oil Spill In Your Course?

Mike Rustad asks. Mike is speaking 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 Berkley.
Mike would appreciate your input:
In preparation for my talk, I am doing an informal study of how torts teachers use the BP Disaster (or other disasters) in their basic courts course (to illustrate topics such as the economic loss rule, legal causation, etc.), or in advanced torts or products liability classes. I am wondering how torts (and other subjects, too) have incorporated the BP oil spill into their classes. You can reply to me off-line at mrustad [at] suffolk.edu or perhaps we can start a discussion on-line as well. George Conk (Fordham) uses the BP oil spill in his Business Torts class to teach topics such as the economic loss rule, limited duty, and the role of insurance. He has posted a number of BP documents of interest to torts teachers at http://tortstoday.blogspot.com/p/bp-deepwater-horizon-spill.html I would be interested to hear how others use the BP oil spill, Katrina, or other disasters in their torts courses.
- SBS

April 10, 2012 in Conferences, Teaching Torts | 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:

http://app.go.wolterskluwerlb.com/e/es.aspx?s=1654&e=15157&elq=97fa11fa3fe643b1b7dc763fbd03b00c

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: richard.epstein@nyu.edu; catherine.sharkey@nyu.edu.

--CJR

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

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Appellate Cases Turning on Actual or Proximate Cause?

Readers,

Samson Vermont (Miami) has asked for your input for his seminar class. Do you know of any pending tort cases that turn on actual cause or proximate cause? He is looking for cases (in any state or federal court) that are on appeal or expected to be on appeal. Or, as another alternative, a case that did not get appealed but could have been appealed on causation grounds.

You are welcome to reply in the comments.

- SBS

February 2, 2012 in Teaching Torts | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)