TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Southwestern Law School

Monday, February 28, 2011

If You Do Any Appellate Work, This Is Of Interest...

Although not torts-related, a recent article by Anthony J. Franze and R. Stanton Jones of Arnold & Porter should be of interest to anyone who handles federal appeals.   In With Friends Like These: The Troubling Implications of the Government's Recent Effort to Block Amicus Curiae Briefs in a Controversial White Collar Criminal Appeal, Franze and Jones look at the government's "resistance" to amicus briefs in a controversial white collar case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.   There, the government is urging the Eighth Circuit to adopt a restrictive standard for allowing amicus briefs in general.   Franze and Jones explore the implications of this restrictive standard, and argue it should not be adopted.

Thanks to Ben Garner for the info.


February 28, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Goldberg on American Tort Law as a Model for the World

John Goldberg (Harvard) has posted to SSRN Tort in Three Dimensions.  The piece was part of a Pepperdine symposium last spring, and the abstract provides:

Should our tort law serve as a model for other nations? The answer depends in part on what one understands it to be. Since the mid-Twentieth Century, progressives have favored 'thin' accounts that treat tort law as having but two dimensions: forum and function. Tort, they say, provides a general forum for grievances and, by doing so, performs certain governmental functions, such as deterrence of anti-social conduct, compensation of injury victims, and the bringing to light of abuses of power.

Progressives have favored thin accounts mainly because those accounts emphasize the extent to which tort law enables courts to achieve social goods. Unfortunately, the very thinness of progressive accounts has left tort law highly vulnerable to the conservative criticism that tort is an irrational and illegitimate mode of regulation. As a result, tort law today tends to comes off as an unstable, unprincipled combination of certain plaintiff-friendly features that are said to serve salutary regulatory objectives and certain defendant-friendly features that are said to be necessary to ward off undesirable regulation.

In fact, tort law’s "bipolar" appearance is an unfortunate byproduct of the inadequacies of two-dimensional accounts, whether progressive or conservative. Simply put, tort will inevitably appear arbitrary and mysterious until one appreciates its third dimension – its fill, or substance. Seen in "3D," tort law emerges as a relatively coherent body of law, yet still one that progressives have reason to embrace. Indeed, with tort law in full view, one might even believe that it can profitably be emulated elsewhere.

Via Solum/Legal Theory Blog.


February 25, 2011 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bruesewitz Roundup

As posted Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that vaccine claims are preempted (other than manufacturing claims).  As you'd expect, some commentary has been posted:


February 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

No Preemption in Seat Belt Case

In an interesting counterpoint to the vaccine case, the Supreme Court also ruled this week [PDF] that a case against Mazda alleging defective seatbelts was not preempted by compliance with regulations about restraints.


February 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bruesewitz v. Wyeth

In a 6-2 decision, the United States Supreme Court upheld preemption:  “We hold that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act preempts all design-defect claims against vaccine manufacturers brought by plaintiffs who seek compensation for injury or death caused by vaccine side effects.”   Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the majority opinion.  Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, stating the high court was imposing “its own bare policy preference over the considered judgment of Congress.”  Justice Elena Kagan recused herself.  Coverage from The Christian Science Monitor is here; the opinion (pdf) is here; TortsProf coverage of last month's AALS panel on vaccines is here.


February 23, 2011 in Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesdays with Torts Masters: Jeffrey O'Connell

O%27Connell-2 Jeffrey O'Connell, the Samuel H. McCoy II Professor of Law at Virginia, is co-author of the principal work that proposed no-fault insurance. Most recently O'Connell has designed an "early offers" plan where businesses facing personal injury lawsuits could promptly pay injured parties for out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages.

After O'Connell graduated from Harvard Law School, he was a trial lawyer in Boston with the firm of Hale & Dorr. He came to Virginia in 1980 after 16 years at the University of Illinois. He also has taught at the University of Iowa and has been a visiting professor at Northwestern, the University of Michigan, Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Washington, and Oxford and Cambridge universities in England. He was the recipient of Guggenheim fellowships in 1973 and 1979. In 1989 he was the Thomas Jefferson Visiting Fellow at Downing College, Cambridge University and, in 1991, the John Marshall Harlan Visiting Distinguished Professor at New York Law School. In 1992 he received the Robert B. McKay Award for Tort and Insurance Scholarship from the American Bar Association.

Jeffrey was my Torts professor and the reason, in several ways, that I'm in the academy.  I recently had the chance to ask him some questions about his background.

  1. Why did you apply to law school?  Where did you go to law school, and why did you select that school?

I applied to law school out of interest in both legal and political matters. I went to Harvard because it was near home and I intended to practice in Massachusetts.

    2.    Who was your Torts professor, and what was your experience as a Torts student?

My Torts professor was Calvert McGruder, a sitting federal judge on the First Circuit, who taught part-time. It was not a very enlightening course.

    3.    How did you become interested in teaching law and Torts in particular?

I became interested in teaching Torts rather indirectly. The professor teaching it for years was retiring and, although I did not consider it to be my major research activity, I thought it would be a good first- year course to teach. I quickly became aware, through the writings of Fleming James, of what a disaster tort law was and how much reform was needed. As to my becoming interested in teaching law in the first place, I taught speech at Tufts University as a means of putting myself through law
school and found that I much enjoyed teaching and the law.

    4.   When did you begin teaching Torts, and how have the course and the Torts professoriate changed since then?

I began teaching torts in about 1961. Unfortunately, except for a few scholars, most tort books have not challenged the outmoded criteria of negligence in a modern, mechanized world. For the typical personal injury case, tort law has progressed little if at all.

    5.    What do you see as your major accomplishments as a scholar and teacher?

My major accomplishment as a teacher and a scholar arose early in my career when I joined with Prof. Robert Keeton of the Harvard Law school in proposing what is generally credited as the leading cause of the adoption of no-fault insurance. And I'm still a fan despite all the tribulations that a major legal reform faces.


February 22, 2011 in TortsProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 21, 2011

New Congressional Civil Justice Caucus Pushes Legal Reform Issues

From the Blog of the Legal Times:

Conservative lawmakers are organizing in a more formal way to promote an array of changes to the civil justice system, including proposals related to medical malpractice reform, venue and federal pleading standards.

Six members of the U.S. House of Representatives said today they’re starting a Congressional Civil Justice Caucus. Like other alliances formed on specific issues, the caucus won’t have specific authority, but its members hope it will be a vehicle for organizing and debate.

George Mason also has formed the "Congressional Civil Justice Caucus Academy," which is "an independent, outside entity that shares the goals of the Caucus and is organized under the leadership of the Law & Economics Center at George Mason University School of Law."

Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the story.


February 21, 2011 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Personal Injury Roundup No. 94 (2/18/11)

Sorry for the break last week, but we're back.  And I'm off to run the Austin Half Marathon on Sunday.  Think good thoughts!

New Cases

  • Suit brought against Disney for burn from nacho cheese.  (TortsProf)


  • $42M verdict against fen-phen lawyers, accused of fraud, vacated.  (Courier Journal)

Reform, Legislation, Policy

  • Arizona finds a way to go after undocumented people and punitive damages simultaneously -- denying the former the opportunity to recover the latter.  (East Valley Tribune)
  • A more traditional punitives cap proceeds in South Carolina.  (Claims Journal)
  • Drug & Device Law Blog thinks about compliance presumptions. (Drug & Device Law Blog; see also my post at Point of Law five years ago)
  • Walter Olson's book, critical of law schools' role in many legal developments, is out, and he's doing a bunch of readings.  (Overlawyered)

Trials, Settlements and Other Ends


  • My friend David Robertson, who has provided invaluable help and advice in my teaching career, was featured in our Torts Masters series this week.  (TortsProf)


February 18, 2011 in Roundup | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Punitives Cap in South Carolina

The South Carolina House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to cap punitive damages at three times compensatory damages, with a maximum award of $350,000.  The legislation also restricts the state attorney general's abillity to use outside counsel, and the fees allowed for such counsel.  Similar legislation is expected to be picked up by the Senate shortly.

The bill is available here, and includes various exceptions to the punitives cap.


February 17, 2011 in Current Affairs, Damages, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Homeless Shelter Sued for Wrongful Death

Via Overlawyered comes a story about a suit against a St. Louis church being sued by the family of a 21-year-old who, while a client of a homeless shelter, was stabbed to death by another client.

[The plaintiff] alleges in her suit that the center, at 1411 Locust Street, failed to check or screen residents for weapons and did not have guards or a security system in place. She also alleges that residents were not warned that there was no security and that shelter officials did not respond quickly enough to help Dunlap.


February 17, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cyberbullying as IIED Claim?

New York Law Journal has an interesting article by Andrew S. Kaufam and Betsy D. Baydala, both of Kaufman Borgeest & Ryan in NYC.  The article analyzes the viability of a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress based on allegations of cyberbullying.

Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the link.


February 16, 2011 in Conferences | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesdays with Torts Masters: David Robertson

Robertson_david_lgDavid W. Robertson is the W. Page Keeton Chair in Tort Law and University Distinguished Professor at the University of Texas at Austin.  He is the author of the classic Admiralty and Federalism (Foundation, 1970), co-author of Cases and Materials on Torts (West, 2nd ed., 1998), and co-author of The Maritime Law of the United States (Carolina 2000) and Cases and Materials on Torts (West, 3d ed., 2004). His numerous articles have appeared in Texas Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Modern Law Review, Law Quarterly Review, Tulane Law Review and elsewhere. He is a member of the American Law Institute and serves on the Advising Board of Editors of the Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce

I recently was able to ask Professor Robertson some questions about his torts experience:

Q:  Why did you apply to law school?  Where did you go to law school, and why did you select that school? 

Late summer, 1958, headed into my 4th year as an undergrad. at LSU, I discover that I have ample credit hours but cannot muster a major  (close in English, French, history, philosophy but not close enough). BUT:  A year in law school will give me a BA with a major in pre-law (and of course w/option to continue law school if 1st year survived [about half flunked out in those years]).  So off to LSU law I went.

Q:  Who was your Torts professor, and what was your experience as a Tort student? 

Wex Smathers Malone, a giant.  A lovely teacher.  A true character.  

Because I had to work in the afternoons to survive [and LSU Law had scheduled 1st-year classes to discourage or prohibit 1st-year students from working] I had to seek special permission to take a shortened load in 1st year and thus had torts (a year-long course) in 2d.  It seemed a little simple to me--what a truly stupid notion that was!--compared to the 2d-year subjects, and at that time I didn't fall in love w/the subject matter.

Q:  How did you become interested in teaching law and Torts in particular? 

After graduation from law school in 1961, I took a job with the U.S. Senate.  As that was reaching its natural (for me anyway) endpoint, I was juggling law firm possibilities and scholarship offers for grad law school at Yale and Harvard--really just trying to find a way to avoid a real job--when Charles Reynard, LSU prof, died.  The LSU law faculty (as I rememer it) had suddenly shrunk from 13 to 12, and Dean Paul M. Hebert called me and asked me to come and fill in  (as an Instructor) for a year or two.  I was hoping to teach contracts and criminal law.  Instead I was assigned History of the Common Law (in Louisiana, a foreign subject), Trusts (which Louisiana law did not recognize until years later), Moot Court (I had never been to court)  and Torts.  It wasn't hard to fall in love with Torts in that context.

Q:  When did you begin teaching Torts, and how has the course and the Torts professoriate changed since then? 

1962.  At most self-described "elite" schools, torts has shrunk from a year-long 6 to a year-long 5 to a semester 4 to a semester 3.  They call this tort reform.  Re professoriate:  "Elite" academies are filled with people who want to use tort law as a basis for social science experiments and theories but who don't care to learn or teach how to DO tort law.  [In the middle of my academic career, I resigned to go into private practice and so have done some tort law and liked it pretty well.]

Q:  What do you see as your major accomplishments as a Torts scholar (and teacher)? 

Question seems premature to me, because I'm still teaching and confidently expecting a major accomplishment at any moment.  Meanwhile, I'll cite the forthcoming 4th edition of a very good (how to do tort law) casebook, a series of articles on factual causation, and maybe 5000 or more alums who generously say I taught them something useful.


February 15, 2011 in TortsProfs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Guest Blogger Kyle Graham: "The Heartbalm Torts and the Legal Elite, Circa 1935"

Each fall, I begin my Torts course with Fitch v. Valentine, a recent case in which a divided Mississippi Supreme Court narrowly granted a reprieve to the endangered “heartbalm tort” of alienation of affections.  In making the arguments for and against resigning the tort to the ash heap of history, the various opinions in Fitch provide a nice introduction to the basic functions that we assign to tort law. 

I use this post to share a more obscure but equally interesting artifact that also relates to the heartbalm torts, which include not only alienation of affections but also breach of promise, criminal conversation, and seduction.  Back in 1935, in the first wave of anti-heartbalm fervor, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York prepared this report on the heartbalm torts.  Download 1935 ABCNY Report[1]  As discussed below, the report offers a reminder that while the more recent push against the heartbalm causes of action has focused upon the supposedly archaic nature of these claims, the motives behind the initial anti-heartbalm movement were somewhat different.

The report, drafted by the ABCNY’s Committee on Law Reform, is just five pages long.  The first page and a half is devoted to a turgid recitation of Roman and German law on claims for breach of promise to marry.  The report hits its rhetorical stride only when it turns to the cause of action for alienation of affections.  To the report’s drafters, these suits were, “as a general proposition, resorted to by unscrupulous men and women to extort money from defendants unwilling to go through a trial of the issues for fear of publicity,” and “the basis of the old so-called ‘badger game.’ ” (Seven decades later, the “badger game” would inspire the Clive Owen-Jennifer Aniston movie “Derailed.”) 

The ABCNY report directs even stronger criticism toward claims for criminal conversation:  “There would seem to be little support within the modern concepts of morality for the existence of such a cause of action.  That either spouse should be entitled to receive a payment in money because of the other’s infidelity would seem to put the marriage relation on a plane so sordid as to be comparable almost to the White Slave Traffic.”  The report also harrumphs, “It is inconceivable that either a man or a woman of finer sensibilities or having any right to claim adherence to the higher ideals of human conduct should ever resort to such a suit.”  

These passages sound like they emanated from an institution saturated with white-shoe Wall Street attorneys, because they did.  In their hour of need, the embattled heartbalm torts found few friends among the legal elite, who considered the prosecution of these claims incompatible with the image they sought to project for their profession.   Bringing a heartbalm case seemed just one step above (or maybe even below) ambulance chasing.   (Which, it might be added, the ABCNY also was campaigning against at around the same time.)   John G. Jackson, the chairman of the ABCNY committee that produced the report, had helmed the American Bar Association’s Committee on Unauthorized Practice of the Law; he had experience policing the ethical boundaries of the profession.  Perhaps Jackson perceived, in the prevailing anti-heartbalm mood of the time, an opportunity to pare back a somewhat squalid area of practice.  And in any event, on balance the ABCNY was serving its clients’ interests by advocating reform; while very few Association members ever would bring a heartbalm lawsuit, a few more might expect to defend such a case. 

In recommending the abolition or limitation of the heartbalm torts, the lawyers of the ABCNY found common cause with elites in other segments of society.  Most notably, the small but growing cohort of female state legislators of the time sensed that heartbalm suits, which were typically but not exclusively brought by women, cast their gender in a passive light inconsistent with future gains in the statehouse.  In the words of Indiana legislator Roberta West Nicholson, these representatives didn’t “want to see inferior women pull down our sex” by filing, and then prevailing upon, well-publicized heartbalm suits.   

To conclude, the ABCNY report suggests that while the initial campaign against the heartbalm torts may have mostly been about gender, it was also about class.  In joining forces against these causes of action, the ABCNY and legislators such as Nicholson were unlikely bedfellows.  To each group, however, the heartbalm torts represented both a cause for concern—after all, outsiders might lump these elites together with the scoundrel (or merely hapless) plaintiffs and disreputable attorneys who were bringing these suits—and an opportunity to promote an aspirational agenda reflecting what their gender or profession should be, and could become.  

--Kyle Graham, Assistant Professor of Law, Santa Clara Law

February 14, 2011 in Guest Blogger | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Monday's Guest Blogger: Kyle Graham

Kyle-graham2 Kyle Graham is Assistant Professor of Law at Santa Clara Law.  Prior to joining the Santa Clara Law faculty in 2009, he worked as deputy district attorney in Mono County, California. Other previous appointments include working as a staff attorney for Associate Justice Carlos Moreno of the California Supreme Court and working as an associate with the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. He also served as a law clerk for the United States District Judge William Alsup.  Professor Graham received his B.A. from Stanford and his J.D. from Yale.  His most-recent publication is "Why Torts Die" in the Florida State University Law Review.

Professor Graham's timely Valentine's Day topic will be "The Heartbalm Torts and the Legal Elite, Circa 1935."


February 11, 2011 in Guest Blogger | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hot Nacho Suit Against Disney

In March 2010, a California family visited Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, with their four-year-old son Isaiah.  While there, they bought some nachos as a snack.  Those nachos "were spilled" on Isaiah, who suffered burns. 

They've now sued Disney in a suit that might -- sort of -- echo the famous/infamous Liebeck coffee case, though there are some obvious differences (age of the plaintiff, the particular way the injury occurred, etc.). 

The complaint is available here (PDF), and the exhibit, with a photo of the boy's burns, is available here (PDF).

According to at least one vendor's website, nacho cheese is held from 140-155 degrees.


February 10, 2011 in Current Affairs, Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

New Blog on Law & Bioscience

Nita A. Farahany (Vanderbilt) recently started a new blog of possible interest.  Her description:

The Law and Biosciences Daily Digest provides relevant summaries of legal opinions (civil and criminal) in which cognitive neuroscience or behavioral genetics evidence has been introduced. While there has been growing interest in the intersection of law & cognitive neuroscience or behavioral genetics, until now few are tracking or aware of the developing case law in this area. When individuals do become aware of a case, most assume it’s an interesting anomaly. I’ve been tracking these cases daily since 2004, and with the recent uptick in the past two years, at least 2-3 opinions per day are published in which cognitive neuroscience or behavioral genetics evidence has been used. The Daily Digest provides a daily summary of those opinions.

I've had a student or two write papers vaguely related to the area in the last few years, but, as Prof. Farahany suggests, I had assumed most of the opinions were anomalous.


February 10, 2011 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Accleration Problems Not Due to Electronics, Per Panel

Confirming what has been suggested by some observers for quite a while, federal highway safety officials concluded that the unintended acceleration cases were not caused by any electronic flaws in Toyota vehicles, instead suggesting driver error (and, in some cases, sticky pedals and flawed floormats).


February 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lawsuit Over Death on Study Abroad Program

My local paper has been a more consistent source of material than usual lately, this week discussing (may be behind a paywall soon) a lawsuit brought against a local entity, the Center for International Study, by a family whose son died on a program in Australia.

Matthew Ray Attwood, 20, of Exeter, N.H., bled to death Feb. 11, 2008, at La Trobe University, about 35 miles north of Melbourne. According to the lawsuit, he was found by a painting crew in a large puddle of blood next to a shattered plate glass window.

Attwood's parents are seeking $2 million or more in damages, and are represented by Boston attorney Michael Lambert.

* * *

"If Matthew had been found within a reasonable amount of time after he suffered his injury, the bleeding from the lacerated brachial artery could have been stopped and his life would have been saved," the lawsuit states.

An autopsy measured Attwood's blood-alcohol content at 0.13 at his time of death, according to the lawsuit.


February 10, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stapleton on Causation

Jane Stapleton (ANU/Texas) has posted to SSRN Factual Causation.  The abstract provides:

The doctrinal parameters of the tort of negligence are remarkably open-textured which is why it has typically been in negligence cases that foundational formulations of factual causation have been made. This area of law has recently undergone an extensive restatement by the American Law Institute and been the subject of legislative attention in all Australian states. In the light of these developments this Essay, in a Special Issue of the Federal Law Review in Honour of Professor Leslie Zines on his 80th Birthday, sketches some essential issues relevant to factual causation which apply not only to the tort of negligence but throughout the law. Inter alia, the Essay argues: that the High Court of Australia’s common sense test of causation is an empty slogan, neither a test nor anything to do with common sense; that Australian courts should cease referring to the ‘scope of the duty’; that a factor should be recognized as a factual cause if it contributes in any way to the existence of the phenomenon in issue even if it is neither a but-for nor a sufficient factor for the existence of the phenomenon in issue; and that aspects of the recent Australian civil liability legislation can and should be ignored.


February 9, 2011 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesdays with Torts Masters: Robert Rabin


An expert on torts and legislative compensation schemes, Robert Rabin is highly regarded for his extensive knowledge of the history and institutional dynamics of accident law. He is a prolific author on issues relating to the functions of the tort system and alternative regulatory schemes and is the co-editor of a classic casebook on tort law.

Professor Rabin is currently an advisor to the ongoing American Law Institute Restatement of Torts Third project and has been the program director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program on Tobacco Policy Research and Evaluation, as well as a reporter for the American Law Institute Project on Compensation and Liability for Product and Process Injuries and the American Bar Association Action Commission to Improve the Tort Liability System. He has been a member of the Stanford Law School faculty since 1970.

I recently had the chance to ask some questions about his background.

1.  Why did you apply to law school?  Where did you go to law school, and why did you select that school?

As I came near finishing my undergrad education, I wasn’t sure what to do next. A good friend who was planning to attend law school in the fall suggested that I take the LSAT, apply to law schools, and consider it as an option. Sounded reasonable. Subsequently, I was awarded a full tuition scholarship and so decided it was worth trying at least for a year. For a variety of personal reasons I wanted to stay in Chicago (after attending Northwestern Univ. undergrad), and went on to get my degree at Northwestern Univ. School of Law.

2.  Who was your Torts professor, and what was your experience as a Torts student?

My torts professor was a visitor at Northwestern, Walter Probert, from U. of Florida. There was nothing singular about my experience in Torts; my favorite courses as a 1L were Contracts and Civil Procedure, in both of which I was especially intellectually stimulated by the classroom instruction.

3.  How did you become interested in teaching law and Torts in particular?

My interest in teaching law was a carryover from the best of the courses I took: the dynamic give-and-take in the classroom was intellectually stimulating in those classes. The idea of doing research and writing on whatever topics seemed of interest to me also was very attractive. I wandered into torts teaching in the same way I wandered into law school: The dean at Wisconsin (my first academic appointment) told me that they needed a torts teacher and I was it. The course was of immediate interest to me—although my early research and writing was primarily in the administrative law area. (I had gone on to do a doctorate in political science after finishing law school.)

4.  When did you begin teaching Torts, and how have the course and the Torts professoriate changed since then?

Torts was the first course I taught, back in 1966. At first, I just followed the lead of the casebook (Gregory&Kalven, a very fine casebook); I had no overarching conception of my own. As time passed, and I moved from Wisconsin to Stanford, I adopted my new colleague Marc Franklin’s casebook, which was roughly organized around the concept of tort and alternative approaches to addressing the social problem of accidental harm (with virtually no attention to intentional torts). I found this focus appealing, and over the years my approach to this framework of accident law—both in teaching and research—has become more interdisciplinary, and it has broadened to encompass both no-fault alternatives and regulation alternatives to dealing with health and safety-related injuries.

5.  What do you see as your major accomplishments as a scholar and teacher?

As a teacher, I’ve tried to convey in the classroom my own intellectual and policy-related interests in torts, and more broadly, the regulation of health and safety risks. On this score, I feel a sense of satisfaction in the feedback that I’ve received from students over the years.

I’ve pursued the same themes in my scholarship. It would take a long essay to develop the particulars about what pathways I’ve taken and which of my articles and books seem to me most satisfying. Without meaning to seem self-effacing, I’d prefer to leave to others the assessment of which works of mine seem major accomplishments.


February 8, 2011 in TortsProfs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)