Course Details

Tort and Products Liability

There are three parts to this seminar. 1) Each week there will be readings on various aspects of tort and injury law, including the history and jurisprudence of the subject, criticisms from various perspectives, material on juries and attorneys' fees, and material on how liability law affects behavior. Each week, each student will submit a list of three comments or questions on the material, which can be brief or lengthy. 2) Each week there will be lectures on products liability, which may include questions I ask the class and will also include time for class members to pose their own questions. 3) Each student will write a research paper on a topic that he or she selects, which in some way fits within the broad framework of the course. I will provide a list of potential topics, but students are entirely free to pick the subject of the paper. I will accept two students for three-draft writing credit, either on pre-approval or on a first-come first-served basis, but students wishing to do three drafts must present a viable topic within the first week of the semester. I will be prepared to consult on possible subjects with students wishing to do three-draft papers, or indeed with anyone. Evaluation: A very substantial proportion of the grade for the course will be on the research paper. However, I will also give credit for class participation and for the thoughtfulness reflected in the short papers on the weekly reading assignments. I do not assign specific percentages to these elements of a student's work. Typically, I begin with an evaluation of the research paper and make adjustments-sometimes fairly substantial ones, especially upward-for class participation and the weekly papers. Objective: The objective of the seminar is to prepare students to deal with tort and products issues that arise in a variety of practices, including general litigation and corporate practice as well as tort and insurance practice. This preparation includes critiques of written work aimed at preparing people to do the intensive writing that all young lawyers must do. Issues presented by the course materials The broad question we will analyze is, how does tort law work in practice? Some of the more specific issues presented by the seminar materials include these: Costs. What do accidents cost, and what are the costs of the tort system? Fault. In a perspective broader than that afforded by introductory tort courses, we will examine concepts of accident and fault and how they relate to specific tort issues. Juries. Do juries deliver the best justice available for personal injuries? Critiques. What are the strengths and weaknesses of different methodologies and ideological approaches that have been used to criticize tort law? These include economics, critical legal studies, and feminism. Social meaning. How does tort law reflect society? Tort reform. Is major legislative change needed in the tort system? What are the methods of argument that can be used in lawyering for and against tort reform? What are the comparative merits of common law and legislation in the torts and products areas? Compensation in The World of 9/11 and Ebola. One set of readings for the last session of the seminar will be material on the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. This part of the assignment asks you to think anew about when and why our society should provide mechanisms to compensate for all kinds of injuries. The Ebola assignment, taken from contemporary materials, inquires into the comparative efficacy of tort suits, regulation, compensation systems, and communication to the public. Specific Products Liability lecture topics The lectures on products liability will cover, among other topics: Theories of liability, both representational and nonrepresentational The concept of defect in products law How liability is imposed throughout the chain of product distribution Defenses based on the plaintiff's conduct The law of products warnings The controversy over liability for "economic loss" Punitive damages Students who would like to complete the 2 draft writing requirement and earn one additional credit hour in this course will be able to self-enroll in the associated LAWWRT 602 Section 18 course section (class nbr 18798) during open enrollment August 26-September 25, 2015. Students who would like to complete the 3 draft requirement and earn one additional credit hour in this course will need to submit a request for approval via the Writing Requirement form on the Registration and Records Registration page to obtain professor permission. The professor may limit the number of 3 drafts allowed in this course. Students may submit this request during open enrollment: August 26-September 25,2015.

Catalog Number: PPTYTORT 630
Practice Areas: Business, Corporate,Trans AreaTort Law Practice Area
Additional Course Information: Consult Professor about writing requirements,  Research Writing


Course History

Fall 2017
Title: Tort and Products Liability
Faculty: Shapo, Marshall S. (courses | profile)
Section: 1     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 25     Actual: 15

Fall 2016
Title: Tort and Products Liability
Faculty: Shapo, Marshall S. (courses | profile)
Section: 1     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 12     Actual: 6

Fall 2015
Title: Tort and Products Liability
Faculty: Shapo, Marshall S. (courses | profile)
Section: 1     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 12     Actual: 12

Fall 2014
Title: Tort and Products Liability
Faculty: Shapo, Marshall S. (courses | profile)
Section: 1     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 12     Actual: 11