Thursday, October 3, 2019
Sadly, we must share the news that our friend and colleague, Oscar S. Gray, passed away today (October 3) in New York City. Oscar, the Jacob A. France Professor Emeritus of Torts at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, was one of the nation’s preeminent tort scholars from the 1970s until the time of his death. He published the second and third editions of the definitive six-volume treatise on tort law, Harper, James and Gray on Torts. He also was a co-editor of the influential torts casebook, Cases and Materials on Torts, along with Harry Shulman, Fleming James, Jr., and Don Gifford. During the mid-1990s, he served as chair of the AALS Section on Tort and Compensation Systems, and in 2010, he received the William L. Prosser Award for lifetime service from the section.
Oscar, a native of Maryland, attended Yale College from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He decided to attend Yale Law School because, as he said in a 2011 interview, “law [is] a mechanism for bringing about social change, and … a way—perhaps the most striking way—of fighting for the righting of wrongs.” There he received, from Harry Shulman and Fleming James, Jr., what he described as “the best introduction to Torts I could have hoped for.” He also worked as a research assistant with Fowler Harper.
In the early 1950s during the anti-Communist hysteria of the McCarthy era, Professor Gray served as an attorney-adviser in the Legal Adviser's Office of the U.S. Department of State. Both in this role and when he applied for admission to the Maryland Bar, he was asked, but refused as a matter of principle, questions about his political beliefs or the people whom he knew. From 1957 until 1971, he became a vice president and director of a start-up company in the nuclear materials field. He later served the government as special counsel to the President's Task Force on Communications Policy and as acting director of the Office of Environmental Impact for the U.S. Department of Transportation where, as he later described it, he “had a dandy time trying to prevent roads from doing unnecessary environmental harm.”
As a result of this work, in the late 1960s, Oscar received offers to teach the newly developing subject, Environmental Law, at Georgetown and Catholic. While doing so, he assembled a casebook on environmental law because there were no commercial offerings in the field. In 1970, Georgetown Law School offered him a full-time faculty position teaching Torts. Oscar’s first step was to visit his own Torts teacher, Fleming James, at Yale to seek his suggestions regarding teaching torts. At the end of their encounter, Professor James asked Oscar if he was willing to coedit a new edition of the Shulman and James tort casebook and Oscar enthusiastically accepted the offer. A year or so later, Oscar joined James as a coeditor of the torts treatise. When asked in the 2011 interview what he regarded as his most important professional accomplishment, Oscar answered that it was “keeping alive the voices of Shulman and James, and Harper, so that they can continue to speak to new generations of students and scholars.” Oscar was extremely active in the activities of the American Law Institute and its drafting of the earlier parts of the Restatement (Third) of Torts.
In 1971, Oscar joined the faculty at the University of Maryland School of Law where he actively taught until 1996. To his colleagues, he was a steadfast figure of uncompromising integrity and commitment to scholarly excellence and precision in the use of language.
In 2018, Oscar celebrated fifty years of marriage with Dr. Sheila Hafter Gray, a leader in the psychoanalytic education and accreditation community. She survives him.
Despite his demanding scholarly agenda, Oscar was a huge fan of baseball and his Baltimore Orioles, through good times and bad. For decades, he “scored” each baseball game he attended with pencil and paper. He and Sheila also enjoyed chamber music and opera. Finally, Oscar was a serious wine collector.
Oscar Gray’s life will be celebrated at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law at a date and time to be announced later.
--Don Gifford and Chris Robinette
Monday, September 23, 2019
Congratulations to Anita Bernstein, who has been selected the 2020 William L. Prosser Award honoree! Anita is the Anita and Stuart Subotnick Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. Her biography:
Prior to joining Brooklyn Law School, Professor Bernstein was the Sam Nunn Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law, the Wallace Stevens Professor of Law at New York Law School and Norman & Edna Freehling Scholar and Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law. She also served as a visiting professor at Michigan Law School, Cornell Law School, and the University of Iowa College of Law, where she was the Mason Ladd Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law. Before her academic career, she practiced with Debevoise & Plimpton and was a law clerk to Judge Jack Weinstein of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Thursday, September 19, 2019
James Goudkamp and Donal Nolan have posted to SSRN Pioneers, Consolidators and Iconoclasts: The Story of Tort Scholarship, the introduction to Scholars of Tort Law. The abstract provides:
Common law scholarship is overwhelmingly focused on judicial decisions, with the result that the writings of even highly influential legal scholars have, by comparison, rarely been the subjects of scrutiny in their own right. This represents a serious gap in our understanding of the common law and its development. The purpose of the current volume is to begin the process of redressing this imbalance, by considering the role played by leading scholars of tort law from across the common law world in the development of the subject. The focus of the contributions is on the nature of the work produced by each of the scholars in question, important influences on them and the influence which they in turn had on thinking about tort law.
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
For several years we have been without a torts professor listserv in the United States. Thanks to Gus Hurwitz at Nebraska, that is no longer the case.
You can either subscribe via the web interface at https://listserv.unl.edu/signup-anon (the list name is tortsprof), or by sending an email to email@example.com with an empty subject line and a body that contains nothing but "subscribe tortsprof" (including no signature).
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
The Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC is in the process of hiring several Assistant Professors to begin in 2020-2021. Torts is an area of particular interest. The deadline to apply is September 10, and the link to information is here: http://www.allard.ubc.ca/sites/www.allard.ubc.ca/files/images/homepage/assistant_professor_job_posting.pdf
They are also hiring Full or Associate Professors (any fields) and recruiting to nominate a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Health Law, Law and Technology, or Legal Ethics. A link listing UBC's current academic employment opportunities is here: http://www.allard.ubc.ca/about-us/careers-allard-school-law
Friday, July 19, 2019
Another sad death to report. John Gardner, Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford, has passed away from cancer at the age of 54. I met him only once. He was interesting, interested, charming, and kind. The Oxford obituary is here.
Monday, July 15, 2019
Tuesday, July 2, 2019
Monday, April 29, 2019
Congratulations to Mike Green on his seventeen-year tenure as the U.S. representative to the European Group on Tort Law. Mike took emeritus status last week; he was both respected and loved by members of the Group. His involvement began in 2002, in the intense period prior to the Group's 2005 publication of the Principles of European Tort Law.
Last week, for the first time, I attended the Annual Conference on European Tort Law, sponsored by the European Centre on Tort and Insurance Law and the Austrian Academy of Sciences. For those of you in the U.S. interested in comparative law, I highly recommend it. The conference covers the highlights of the previous year in tort law for over 20 European countries in 8-minute country reports. I was dubious that academics could be restricted to speaking for 8 minutes, but the conference is run like a well-oiled machine. Another wonderful feature of the conference is the atmosphere. Speakers and attendees are serious about the material, and do not hesitate to debate issues. There is, however, a remarkable sense of good will present, evident in the custom of attending Heurigen on Friday night. Heurigen, which translates as something like "first wine," is when the speakers and attendees go to a traditional Austrian restaurant and enjoy dinner, wine, and even singing together. The opening lecture this year was delivered by Mark Lunney, who discussed Australia as an important point of comparative common law. The closing lecture on law and economics was delivered by Mark Geistfeld. Do consider attending next year.
Thursday, April 18, 2019
We hope this email finds you well. We are writing as the Secretary and Treasurer of the AALS Torts & Compensation Systems section to pass along two important notices.
1. Torts and Compensation Systems 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. If you know of any works that should be included, please forward relevant citations and other information to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for inclusion in this fall's newsletter is Friday, August 16, 2019.
2. 2020 William L. Prosser Award
This is the first call for nominations for the 2020 William L. Prosser Award. The award recognizes “outstanding contributions of law teachers in scholarship, teaching and service” in torts and compensation systems. Recent recipients include Ken Simons, Marshall Shapo, Steve Sugarman, Aaron Twerski, Mike Green, James Henderson, Jane Stapleton, Guido Calabresi, Robert Rabin, Richard Posner, 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. Living tort scholars and those who have passed away within the last five years are eligible for the award. 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 award will be presented at the annual AALS meeting in Washington, D.C. in January 2020.
Nominations must be accompanied by a brief supporting statement and should be submitted no later than Friday, July 19, 2019. Please email submissions to email@example.com.
Mary Davis and Tim Lytton
Monday, March 11, 2019
I am sad to announce the passing of Bill Powers, former president of the University of Texas, dean of the Texas School of Law, and Reporter for the Restatement (Third) of Torts. I did not know Bill well, but I was impressed with him in every encounter we had. He was kind to me. Brian Leiter has a post here, and UT has a memorial notice here.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
David W. Robertson, the William Powers, Jr. and Kim L. Heilbrun Chair in Tort Law at the University of Texas School of Law, passed away at the end of 2018. The University's announcement is here. Thanks to blog founder, Bill Childs, for the information.
Friday, January 4, 2019
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Sunday, November 11, 2018
Wednesday, September 5, 2018
The AALS Torts & Compensation Systems Section has announced that the 2019 William L. Prosser Award is bestowed upon Kenneth Simons. Congratulations to Ken! From the UC Irvine announcement:
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Monday, February 26, 2018
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Allen Linden has passed away at the age of 83. A former Justice of Canada's Federal Court of Appeal, he was named Officer of the Order of Canada in 2015. Moreover, he was a distinguished torts professor who continued to teach the subject during his judicial duties. Linden studied with William Prosser at Berkeley, and became one of Canada's most-respected torts professors, teaching primarily at Osgoode Hall Law School. In the 1960s, he authored a study on compensation for automobile accidents which led to the adoption of a no-fault plan in Ontario in 1969. I never had the honor of meeting him, but I have heard numerous friends speak of him in glowing terms. Rest in peace. An obituary is here.
Monday, August 14, 2017
The AALS Section on Torts and Compensation Systems is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2018 William L. Prosser Award is Marshall S. Shapo, the Frederic P. Vose Professor of Law at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.
The Prosser Award recognizes outstanding contributions in scholarship, teaching and service related to tort law. Nominations are made by fellow tort scholars, and the recipient is selected by the two most-recent Prosser Award winners and the immediate past Chair of the AALS Torts Section, with approval of the Torts Section Executive Committee. Professor Shapo's award, and his many contributions to tort law, will be recognized at the Torts Section meeting at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego, at 1:30 pm on Friday, January 5th, 2018.