Thursday, February 14, 2013
Professor Russ Brown of the University of Alberta has been appointed as a Justice to the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench. Brown taught Torts, Civil Procedure, Property and Wills. His research focused within tort law on economic loss and causation.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
Since Jeffrey died last Sunday, there have been several notices. The New York Times and UVa Law both ran good obituaries. His accomplishments as a scholar are fairly well-known, and I want to share glimpses of Jeffrey that are more personal.
He was a virtuoso classroom teacher. Jeffrey was so entertaining behind the lectern that you had to listen. In this way, you learned and learned painlessly. He told me that too many teachers neglected the performance aspect of teaching. He studied drama, and even taught it while he was a Harvard Law student, and he used the techniques to enhance his teaching.
He had a fantastic sense of humor. One way he was so entertaining is that he was funny. One day, as his research assistant, I was waiting for him to finish class so we could work on an article. When he finally came out of the classroom, he winked at me and said, "Sorry I'm late. The students like to ride me around on their shoulders after class."
He worked. A lot. I have vivid memories of him in his office. He liked to work standing at a lectern and listening to classical music. At one point in the early 2000s, he told me that he thought he had finished writing. It lasted a few months. In 2008, on the verge of turning 80, he co-authored 3 books.
He was centered in family. He spoke often and lovingly of his family. His Christmas cards in the later years featured him surrounded by numerous family members and very happy. I returned from his funeral yesterday, and the family's deep affection for Jeffrey was obvious.
He was generous. One word I hear over and over about Jeffrey from others is that he was generous. In working with him, Jeffrey was always more concerned that I get credit for my work than he was about credit for his. Over the weekend, I heard a story about his experiences as an associate at Hale & Dorr in Boston. One of the firm's clients was a man who had escaped the Holocaust in Germany. He built a financial empire in the United States, but was illiterate. On his own time, Jeffrey took dictation from the man so he could send letters back to his family in Europe.
He was compassionate. His fundamental idea was to make compensation more readily available to the injured. Regardless of your view of his proposals, and we disagreed on several occasions about how to best accomplish the objective, he was motivated by a basic compassion for people.
Farewell, my friend. You will be missed.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
It is with profound sadness that I report the death of my teacher, mentor, and friend, Jeffrey O'Connell. The longtime University of Virginia Law professor co-authored the work that led to no-fault automobile insurance and created an "early offers" proposal, a version of which was passed into law in New Hampshire last year. He was a phenomenal classroom teacher and a good man. He will be missed.
I will likely post some further thoughts about Jeffrey later in the week.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
A shout out to our former co-blogger and blog founder, Bill Childs! With great excitement, we received an email from our former co-blogger's new firm announcing his new position. Bill is Senior Counsel at Bowman and Brooke in the firm's Austin, Texas office. Bill is a part of the firm's pharma and medical device product liability litigation groups.
Best wishes to Bill!
- SBS & CJR
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Professors Michael D. Green (Wake Forest) and William C. Powers Jr. (Texas) have been announced as the 2012 co-winners of the John G. Fleming Memorial Prize for Torts Scholarship. They will jointly deliver the second Fleming Lecture at Berkeley Law on November 5. Professors Green and Powers are being honored for, among other things, their outstanding work as American Law Institute co-reporters for two core portions of the Restatement (Third) of Torts.
Berkeley Law Professor John Fleming was among the world’s leading comparative tort law scholars and long-time editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Comparative Law. When he passed away in 1998, two books were published in his honor and proceeds were used to create the Fleming Prize, which is awarded every other year to a tort law scholar from any country. The Fleming family later endowed the Fleming Lecture. Bob Rabin (Stanford), the previous winner of the prize, delivered the first Fleming Lecture.
Professor Stephen Sugarman (Berkeley) can provide more details about this fall’s Fleming Lecture. Congratulations!
Monday, May 21, 2012
Andy Klein, a member of the AALS Torts & Compensation Systems Section's Executive Committee, writes:
This is a "second call" for nominations for the 2013 William L. Prosser Award. The award "recognize[s] outstanding contributions of law teachers in scholarship, teaching and service in ... torts and compensation systems ... ." Recent recipients are Richard Posner, Guido Calabresi, Oscar Gray, Dan Dobbs, and Robert Rabin. Past recipients also include luminaries such as Leon Green, Wex Malone, and John Wade.
As my previous announcement explained, any law professor is eligible to nominate another law professor for the award. Nominators can renew past nominations by resubmitting past nominations and materials. Selection of the recipient will be made by members of the Executive Committee of the Torts and Compensation Systems Section, based on the recommendation of a special selection committee. The announcement of the award will be made at the annual AALS meeting in January, 2013.
Nominations, accompanied by a brief supporting statement, should be submitted no later than July 2, 2012. E-mail submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org are preferred. If you would rather mail hard copies of nomination materials, please use the address in the signature line below. If you prefer to mail the nominations, please send them to the address below.
Let me know if you have any questions, and thanks.
Andrew R. Klein
Paul E. Beam Professor of Law
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Chief of Staff
Office of the Chancellor
355 N. Lansing Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
Monday, March 5, 2012
Andy Klein (Indiana-Indianapolis), the Secretary of the Section, posts the following:
Greetings! In my capacity as secretary of the AALS Torts & Compensation Systems section, I am writing to pass along two important notices.
1. Torts and Compensation Section Newsletter
As most of you know, our section publishes a newsletter each fall listing: (1) Symposia related to tort law; (2) recent law review articles on tort law; (3) selected articles from Commonwealth countries on tort law; and (4) books relating to tort law. We are now beginning the process of compiling material for this year’s newsletter. If you know of anything that should be included, please forward relevant citations and other information to me at email@example.com. The deadline for inclusion is August 15, 2012.
2. Prosser Award
This is the first call for nominations for the 2013 William L. Prosser Award. The award "recognize[s] outstanding contributions of law teachers in scholarship, teaching and service in ... torts and compensation systems ... ." Recent recipients are Richard Posner, Guido Calabresi, Oscar Gray, and Dan Dobbs. Past recipients include scholars such as Leon Green, Wex Malone, and John Wade.
Any law professor is eligible to nominate another law professor for the award. Nominators can renew past nominations by resubmitting materials. Selection of the recipient will be made by members of the Executive Committee of the Torts & Compensation Systems section, based on the recommendation of a special selection committee. The announcement of the award will be made at the annual AALS meeting in January, 2013.
Nominations must be accompanied by a brief supporting statement and should be submitted no later than July 2, 2012. E-mail submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org are preferred. If you would rather mail hard copies of nomination materials, please use the address in the signature line below.
Our committee will send additional reminders about both the newsletter and the Prosser Award as the deadlines approach. In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Andrew R. Klein
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Thursday, March 1, 2012
As I mentioned yesterday, kudos to the students of the Federal Courts Law Review here at the Charleston School of Law for the Mass Torts in the Federal Courts symposium last week. In addition to the keynote address by Ken Feinberg and remarks by Judge Corodemus, the day included three lively panel presentations.
Panel One focused on Preemption. Moderated by my colleague, Bill Janssen, the panel featured (left to right) Jim Beck (Drug & Device Blog/Dechert), Deepak Gupta (Senior Counsel, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), and Cathy Sharkey (NYU). Beck focused on the presumption against preemption and pointed out the Supreme Court's inconsistency on the doctrine. Beck termed the presumption a "judicial football," and noted that Justice Kennedy holds the "key vote" on the issue. Gupta provided a consumer protection viewpoint, and noted that agencies rely on the tort system to supplement and inform the agency's work. Sharkey pointed out the "absurdity" of the Court's rulings in Wyeth v. Levine and Pliva v. Mensing: If you take the generic version of a drug, preemption applies, but if you take the brand name version of the same drug, preemption does not apply. Sharkey advocated a new framework for the Court to view the preemption question focusing on agency consideration: whether the governing agency has paid particular attention to the risk of the plaintiff's injury should control the premption question.
I moderated Panel Two on "Aggregation and Mass Torts." Sheila Birnbaum is speaking in the photo, while seated left to right are myself, Timothy Eble, Alexandra Lahav (Connecticut) and Linda Mullenix (Texas). Eble and Lahav focused on the current litigation system, while Mullenix and Birnbaum addressed the fund approach. Eble focused on settlement class actions and presented a case study involving a medical monitoring settlement class action. He argued that the settlement class is an appropriate use of Rule 23. Lahav discussed the tension between individualism and efficiency in the debate over how to adjudicate mass torts, and asserted that a third value was missing from this discussion: equality. Responding to Ken Feinberg, Mullenix argued that the fund approach is not "sui generis," but increasingly the chosen method for resolving mass torts. Her presentation focused on the voluntariness of a plaintiff's election of remedies under a fund system, and suggested three solutions to combat what she argued was uninformed consent. Her solutions included provision of pro bono counsel to fund claimants, bar association counseling of fund claimants, and judicial invalidation of fund award's based on lack of informed consent. Birnbaum agreed that we are "going to have lots and lots of funds." In response to Mullenix, Birnbaum pointed out that most of the 9/11 claimants had counsel and discussed her work with the 9/11 litigants as well as with the new 9/11 Fund claimants. Birnbaum asserted that the fund approach can provide "more justice" than litigation and criticized the expense and delay involved in the tort system.
The final panel considered Ethical Issues Surrounding Fees and Settlements in Mass Torts. Nathan Crystal (Charleston) moderated the panel, with presentations by (left to right) Lynn Baker (Texas), Beth Burke (Richardson Patrick), John Beisner (Skadden), and Morris Ratner (Visting, Harvard/Professor-Elect, UC Hastings). Burke discussed aggregate settlements under Model Rule of Professional Responsibility 1.8, and the use of a point-based allocation system as opposed to a dollar-based system. Ratner addressed a new phenomena - trial courts relying on the ethical rules to impose caps on attorneys' fees in non-class settlements. He argued that the ethics rules do not provide the right guidance to fill this procedural gap, and further that incorporating the ethical rules in this fashion imposed a cost on the system. Beisner proposed that the ethics rules should be strengthened to better address conflicts of interest at the outset of mass tort litigation. In response to Ratner, Beisner suggested that courts felt a need to do something about fees that were perceived to be too high. Finally, Baker also considered the trend of judges imposing caps on fees in non-class actions, and asked whether the plaintiffs' attorney ethically may challenge the cap where the court sua sponte has now created a conflict of interest between the attorney and her client.
My thanks to all the participants for a wonderful conference.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Congratulations to these TortsProfs, who won "Professor of the Year" at their schools in 2011:
Kevin Brown (Indiana-Bloomington), Andy Klein (Indiana-Indianapolis), Christina Bohannan (Iowa), Mary Davis (Kentucky), Kyle Graham (Santa Clara), and John Watts (Texas Tech). Did I miss anyone?
Also congratulations to Geoff Rapp (Toledo) on his new chair; he is the Harold A. Anderson Professor of Law and Values.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
From the AALS Torts and Compensation Section's Executive Committee:
The William Prosser award will be presented at our Section meeting on January 5, 2012 at 9-12 pm. The Prosser Award was created and presented to its first recipient, Leon Green, in 1974. Later awardees included Fleming James Jr., Wex Malone, W. Page Keeton, John Wade and Willard Pedrick. More recent honorees include Dan B. Dobbs, Guido Calabresi, Oscar Gray, and Robert Rabin.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Technology killed slander. Slander, the tort of defamation by spoken word, dates back to the ecclesiastical law of the Middle Ages and its determination that damning someone’s reputation in the village square was worthy of pecuniary damage. Communication in the Twitter Age has torn asunder the traditional notions of person- to-person communication. Texting, tweeting and other new channels of personal exchange have led one of our oldest torts to its historic demise.
At common law, slander was reserved for defamation by speech; libel was actionable for the printed word. This distinction between libel and slander, however, rests on a historical reality that is no longer accurate. Originally, permanence and breadth of dissemination always coincided. Slander carried only as far as one's voice. Because of slander’s presumed evanescence, common law required plaintiffs to plead special damages - proof of economic harm in order to recover for slander the advent of broadcast technology, with its ability to amplify the spoken word challenged the traditional division of defamation and forced courts and legislatures to reconsider old classifications. Jurisdictions split in their decision to characterize broadcast speech as libel or slander, largely because of divergent views about which aspect of the speech - permanence or breadth of dissemination - was more important. Post-broadcast technology has further complicated the defamation arena leaving parties unsure of how to best plead their defamation case.
In the past decade technology has again changed the way we communicate. The digital communication revolution has created instances of wide-spread dissemination through quick, non-reflective and often passing statements. This past year for example, Wael Ghonim’s tweet to join him in an Egyptian village square lead to the downfall of Egypt’s political powers. His fleeting comments to those willing to listen caused an entire nation to fall. This article considers how courts should rule when these tweets, or texts, not quite printed, not quite spoken, are defamatory.
This Article argues that the advent of texting, tweeting and other forms of digital communication, which I call technospeech, renders the medieval tort of slander irrelevant in today’s technological world. The article provides new support for the contention that courts and legislatures should treat libel and slander uniformly and should abolish the archaic requirement of proof of special damages, a burden traditionally reserved for the spoken word. Maintaining slander in the Twitter Age, with its requirement of proof of economic harm, vitiates the common law purpose of defamation. Treating all defamation similarly promotes fairness for plaintiffs seeking to rehabilitate their damaged reputation and provides predictability to those bringing defamation claims. A thoughtful and orderly treatment of technospeech mandates that courts and legislatures put the proverbial final nail in the coffin of slander.
As I noted at Faculty Lounge, twitter-libel suits are fairly common these days.
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.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Dan Filler at Faculty Lounge reports that Duquesne Law School in Pittsburgh is seeking a Torts Visitor for the 2011-2012 academic year.
Separately, Brian Leiter's annual report on professors visiting at the top six law schools includes several notable torts profs. Martha Chamallas (Ohio State), Keith Hylton (Boston University), Charles Silver (Texas), and Michael Trebilcock (Toronto) will be visiting at Harvard. Alexandra Lahav (Connecticut) and Tony Sebok (Cardozo) will be visiting at Columbia. Robert Rabin (Stanford) will be visiting at NYU. Albert Yoon (Toronto) and Ariel Porat (Tel Aviv) will be visiting at Chicago.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
The Torts and Compensation Systems section of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) is soliciting nominations for the William L. Prosser Award for 2012. The award "recognize[s] outstanding contributions of law teachers in scholarship, teaching and service in ... torts and compensation systems ...." The three most recent distinguished recipients are Honorable Guido Calabresi, Oscar Gray, and Dan Dobbs. Past recipients also include luminaries such as Leon Green, Wex Malone, and John Wade.
Any law professor is eligible to nominate another law professor for the award. Nominators can renew past nominations by resubmitting past nominations in a timely manner. Selection of the recipient will be made by members of the Executive Committee of the Torts and Compensation Systems Section, based on the recommendation of a special selection committee. The announcement of the award will be made at the annual AALS meeting in January, 2012.
Nominations, accompanied by a brief supporting statement (required), should be submitted to Prof. Jennifer Wriggins, Secretary, AALS Torts and Compensation Section, either by regular mail or e-mail at email@example.com. Nominations must be received no later than 5 pm eastern time (U.S.) on Tuesday, July 5, 2011. E-mail submissions at firstname.lastname@example.org are preferred. If you prefer to mail the nominations, please send them to the address below:
Prof. Jennifer Wriggins
Sumner T. Bernstein Professor of Law
University of Maine School of Law
246 Deering Avenue
Portland, ME 04102
Monday, May 23, 2011
Congratulations to TortsProf's own Chris Robinette, who was voted "Professor of the Year" by the Class of 2011 at yesterday's commencement at Widener Harrisburg. Having observed Chris's teaching when we both were at Temple together, I can attest to his skill and dedication in the classroom. It is a well deserved honor.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
This unique collection makes available, for the first time in a single volume, English versions of basic tort law texts from 27 national systems in Europe. It includes key provisions of national civil codes and other important legislative enactments, as well as extracts from leading cases. Additional chapters deal with EU Law (EU Tort Law and EU Conflict of Laws) and the European harmonisation projects (the Principles of European Tort Law and the Draft Common Frame of Reference).
The book was launched on the occasion of last week’s 10th Annual Conference on European Tort Law in Vienna, and is dedicated to the conference’s founder, Helmut Koziol.