Discussion (1L): Tort Encounters (240X): Lawsuits for compensation for personal injury often provide lay people with their first -- or even only -- interaction with the civil side of courts. Those interactions are rarely wholly happy, raising fundamental issues for plaintiffs about the definition of just desserts and fair procedure. There is a rich literature on these personal encounters, some autobiographical and others written by journalists who were given permission to closely follow victims' efforts to obtain compensation. These accounts paint a different picture of the tort liability regime than the one which 1Ls usually encounter in their Fall Torts course, which in recent decades have foregrounded a "law & economics" perspective that focuses on deterring defendants rather than on satisfying victims' desires for justice. In each session we will read a book about an individual's or family's personal encounter with tort law. Candidate books for discussion include an autobiographical take on the author's experience suing doctors for malpractice after her husband's untimely death, a journalist's close account of a working class family's pursuit of compensation for the death of their infants, a holocaust victim's response to the outcome of a class action against Swiss Banks, a journalist's account of a community seeking compensation and accountability for toxic exposure from a pharmaceutical facility. We'll each read the selected book for the session and discuss what the account tells us about the operation of tort law (and civil procedure) in real life and what potential legal reforms it suggests, if any. Each session will be led by one or two students who volunteer (at the beginning of the quarter) to start off and guide the discussion. Writing requirement: One short (5 or so pages) reflection paper on one of the assigned books or another related book of your choice. If you choose to reflect on a different book, it should also be an account of laypersons' experiences with the tort liability system (not a doctrinal analysis of tort law). This discussion seminar will meet four times during the Fall quarter. Meeting dates and times to be arranged by instructor. Elements used in grading: Attendance and class participation, written assignment.
2020-2021 AutumnSchedule No Longer Available