TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Southwestern Law School

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Chef Eduardo Garcia Update

Here's a good story for the holidays.  John Hochfelder shares news of his former client, recovering from injuries suffered from electrocution.  Chef Eduardo Garcia is in this week's People Magazine and will be on Good Morning America soon.


November 30, 2013 in Current Affairs, Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Symeonides on Issue-by-Issue Analysis and Depacage in Choice of Law

Symeon Symeonides (Willamette) has posted to SSRN Issue-by-Issue Analysis and Depecage in Choice of Law:  Cause and Effect.  The abstract provides:

This Article discusses two interrelated features of modern American choice-of-law approaches: (1) issue-by-issue analysis, and (2) dépeçage.

Issue-by-issue analysis stands for the proposition that, in choosing the law to be applied to a multistate case, a court should focus on the particular issue(s) for which the laws of the involved states would produce a different outcome, rather than on the case as a whole. Logic suggests and experience confirms that this mode of analysis is more likely to produce individualized, nuanced, and thus rational resolutions of conflicts problems than the traditional mode of wholesale choices.

Dépeçage is the potential and occasional result of issue-by-issue analysis. It occurs when the court applies the laws of different states to different issues in the same cause of action. Although this phenomenon appears anomalous to the uninitiated, in reality it is not as problematic as it appears. For example, although the majority of American courts routinely use issue-by-issue analysis, this use produces surprisingly few instances of actual dépeçage, and, in most of those cases, dépeçage is innocuous. In the remaining few cases, dépeçage can be problematic, but courts employing modern approaches have all the flexibility to avoid it -- and they do.

The Article concludes that the low -- and easily avoidable -- risk of an occasionally problematic dépeçage is not a good reason to eschew issue-by-issue analysis in light of the clear and considerable advantages of this analysis in producing apt choice-of-law solutions.


November 27, 2013 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Culhane on Coomer

John Culhane has a piece at Slate on Coomer v. Kansas City Royals (the hot-dog-toss case) here.


November 22, 2013 in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Medical Malpractice and Compensation in Global Perspective

Medical Malpractice and Compensation in Global Perspective (edited by Ken Oliphant & Richard W Wright). De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston, 2013. xviii + 573 pages. ISBN 978-3-11-027023-5. €149,95 (hardback).
From the marketing materials:
This book examines the issues of medical malpractice and compensation for medical injuries in a uniquely global context, demonstrating the breadth of approaches currently taken around the world and revealing key areas of tension and the likely direction of future developments. The papers are drawn from a symposium held in Vienna in December 2010 which drew together legal experts from 14 national or regional systems across six continents. The collection is framed by a short introduction by the editors and a concluding chapter of comparative observations by Ken Oliphant.
The legal systems covered are Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Scandinavia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

November 20, 2013 in Books, Conferences, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"The Proper Leash on Pet Injury Lawsuits"

Phil Goldberg (Shook Hardy) has published “Courts and Legislatures Have Kept the Proper Leash on Pet Injury Lawsuits: Why Rejecting Emotion-Based Damages Promotes the Rule of Law, Modern Value, and Animal Welfare.”

The article focuses mostly on cases involving negligence.  The article’s first part explains what owners can get under current laws, namely economic compensation for their pet as well as any reasonable and necessary medical or other expenses incurred as a result of the incident.  If the economic compensation for the pet cannot be derived through the pet’s market value, there are alternative methods for calculating damages to assure proper compensation.

 The remainder of the article captures the debate over whether the compensation can include emotion-based damages, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of companionship.  Courts and legislatures have broadly rejected these damages, and this article explains why, delving into the legal theory and social values debated when this issue arises. 

In short, courts have held that the tort system does not compensate for relational attachments, including with pets.  Courts have pointed out that this is the same reason why, for example, emotion-based damages are not compensable for harm to close personal relations, such as a cousin, fiancée, or human best friend, or for cherished personal property. 

The article concludes that keeping emotion-based damages out of pet litigation is, ultimately, what is best for pets themselves.  Adding new, uncertain liability to pet litigation would cause the price of pet welfare services and products prices to rise.  If owners cannot afford to pay these higher costs, then many pets will not get the care they need.


November 19, 2013 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 18, 2013

House Passes "Lawsuit Abuse" Bill

As I mentioned, last week, the U.S. House was taking up the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act.  The ABA Journal reports that the bill passed the House on Thursday.   The bill reinstates mandatory sanctions and eliminates the 21-day safe harbor for frivolous claims under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  

Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the alert. 


November 18, 2013 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Tort Reform the Song"

From John Day comes "Tort Reform the Song".  As Day explains,

"Tort Reform - The Song" was authored as part of the American College of Trial Lawyers Sixth Circuit Conference held in April 2013 in Nashville. The Conference brought together Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee Fellows and their spouses.

It was appropriate to draw upon Nashville's incredible music history and talent as part of this program, and thus three professional songwriters, led by Ryder Lee, a law student at the Belmont University School of Law and founder and former member of The Lost Trailers helped us write a song. Ryder came into the program with the music and a strong start on the lyrics. The attendees, now co-authors of this work, contributed during the program. Ryder and I finished the work in a writer's room at Universal in Nashville and - no kidding - while sitting on the tailgate of Ryder's truck in the parking lot below Taylor Swift's condominium.


November 18, 2013 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News, Music | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 15, 2013

House Passes Tort Reform Bills

On Monday, Sheila reported that two tort reform bills, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT) and the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA) might receive votes in the U.S. House of Representatives this week.  FACT passed on Wednesday with a 221-199 vote and LARA passed yesterday 228-195.


November 15, 2013 in Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Medical Malpractice at the VA

The Dayton Daily News has a story on malpractice at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Payment for VA med mal claims (paid from a federal treasury fund set aside for federal claims, not the VA budget) totaled $845M over 10 years (on a total of 4,426 claims).  The peak year was 2012 with $93.3M in payouts.  The article notes that VA health care providers are  immune from lawsuits and details instances of bonuses given to providers who had made medical errors or administrators despite poor records at their facilities.  The article also quotes attorneys arguing the early disclosure program and limits on attorneys' fees (20% on settlements and 25% on awards) reduce the amount of claims brought against the VA.  On the other hand, when asked whether VA doctors were worse than other doctors, Dr. Anupam Jena, assistant professor at Harvard, said simply, "no."  The article includes poignant stories by individual victims of malpractice. 


November 14, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tort Liability for Autonomous Cars

A colleague asked me about this last week; I confess that I had not considered it.  Now Kyle Colonna has posted his Note to SSRN.  Entitled Autonomous Cars and Tort Liability, the abstract provides:

With the passing of time, cars are becoming more autonomous and independent of human intervention. However, with this shift in control from humans to technology, there also comes a shift in liability. While autonomous cars will eliminate many accidents caused by human error, many others will result due to technological malfunctions. In order to ensure that autonomous cars enter the marketplace in a timely fashion, the liability of autonomous car manufacturers requires mitigation. This Note examines the legal issues surrounding autonomous cars, including tort liability, and proposes a means by which the liability issues surrounding autonomous cars may be fashioned in order to effectuate a timely implementation of autonomous cars in the marketplace.


November 13, 2013 in Scholarship, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Two Tort Reform Bills on House Calendar This Week

Two tort reform bills have been placed on the House calendar for this week:  the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act and the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act.  According to, both bills are scheduled to be heard by the House Committee on Rules on November 12th.  

Workers' Compensation Blog has more.


November 11, 2013 in Current Affairs, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Engstrom on 3-D Printing and Products Liability

Nora Freeman Engstrom (Stanford) has posted to SSRN 3-D Printing and Products Liability:  Identifying the Obstacles.  The abstract provides:

Though just in its infancy, 3-D printing seems poised to transform the goods we buy, the products we use, and the world we inhabit.  A question frequently raised about 3-D printing, though, is how product liability law will apply to 3-D-printed goods.  Tackling that important and timely question, this Essay applies contemporary product liability law to defective products from home 3-D printers.  The analysis reveals that if home 3-D printing really does take off, PL litigation as we know it may well, in large measure, dry up.  And if it doesn’t, the technology threatens to unsettle the theoretical justification for product liability law’s development.


November 8, 2013 in Products Liability, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Research Handbook on the Economics of Torts

Edward Elgar Publishing announces the publication, later this month, of Research Handbook on the Economics of Torts, edited by Jennifer Arlen (NYU).  From the blurb:

‘An indispensable resource for anyone interested in economic analysis of tort law, and tort law period. Professor Arlen has assembled an academic all-star team, and its members have prepared up-to-date, high quality, and accessible treatments of centrally important topics ranging from causation and damages to vicarious liability and insurance to tort reform and tort alternatives. With respect to the analysis of tort law through the lenses of empirical and microeconomic analysis, this is now the go-to volume.’
– John Goldberg, Harvard Law School, US

Contributors include: J. Arlen, L. Babcock, T. Baker, R. Cooter, A. Daughety, D. DePianto, S.S. Diamond, T. Eisenberg, R. Epstein, J. Furgeson, M. Geistfeld, M. Grady, M. Heise, E. Helland, D. Hensler, K.N. Hylton, L. Kornhauser, R. Kraakman, G. Miller, J. Reinganum, J. Salerno, S.A. Seabury, C. Sharkey, P. Siegelman, E. Talley, M. Trebilcock, T. Ulen, P.-E. Veel, W.K. Viscusi, A.L. Wickelgren, K. Zeiler.

Nov 2013  680 pp  Hardback  978 1 84844 118 7  £180.00 / $285.00 

35% discount price £117.00 / $185.00

To order (or if you have any questions), please email (N&S America) or (Europe & ROW)

To order online (N&S America)

Go to once the book is in your shopping basket, enter LPBN35 in the special discount code box after you have entered your delivery details.

To order online (Europe & ROW)

Go to once the book is in your shopping basket, enter LPBN35 in the special discount code box after you have entered your delivery details.

Offer ends: 31st December 2013


November 6, 2013 in Books, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Oberdiek To Be Acting Dean At Rutgers-Camden

The Faculty Lounge reports that upon Dean Solomon's move to the Provost's office,  TortsProf John Oberdiek will become acting Dean at Rutgers-Camden next July 1, 2014.  Oberdiek teaches and writes in torts and tort theory.


November 5, 2013 in TortsProfs, TortsProfs Moves | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Goldberg & Zipursky on the Fraud-on-the-Market Tort

John Goldberg & Ben Zipursky have posted to SSRN The Fraud-on-the-Market Tort.  The abstract provides:

Fraud on the market is at the core of contemporary securities law, permitting 10b-5 class actions to proceed without direct proof of investor reliance on a misrepresentation. Yet the ambiguities of this idea have fractured the Supreme Court from its initial recognition of the doctrine in Basic v. Levinson to its recent decision in Amgen, Inc. v. Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds.  Amidst divergent views of the coherence and advisability of liability for fraud on the market a fundamental question lurks: is a suit for damages that invokes the fraud-on-the-market theory a claim for common law deceit, such that liability is properly limited by requirements such as scienter and loss causation, or is it an indirect regulatory enforcement action that should be unconstrained by these requirements so that liability can better serve its deterrent and compensatory purposes?  

Rejecting both of these options, we argue for a third way. Fraud-on-the-market claims are not private attorney general actions; they are genuine tort claims through which victims seek redress for having been wronged.  Yet the wrong differs fundamentally in substance from the wrong of deceit. Building on a careful analysis of Dura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Broudo, Basic v. Levinson, and common law, we articulate the unique character of the fraud-on-the-market tort.  Rooted not in deceit but instead in the Congressionally recognized right of investors to trust in the integrity of securities markets, it does not protect investors from being deceived, but rather protects them against economic loss caused by intentional distortions of market prices. This simultaneously explains why fraud-on-the-market plaintiffs are properly freed from having to prove reliance and why the Supreme Court was perhaps justified in imposing restrictions on liability that are foreign to the common law.

Via Solum/LTB


November 1, 2013 in Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)