Mass Torts

This seminar will invite participants to take an in-depth look at the combination of issues raised by complex mass tort lawsuits: issues of substantive tort law, civil procedure, litigation strategy, lawyer-client relationships, the economics of settlement, ethics, the judicial role, and societal impacts.

The course will explore a selection of celebrated mass tort lawsuits, such as those involving the Buffalo Creek disaster, the Woburn leukemia case, Agent Orange, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the concussion/brain injury cases against the NFL and other sports, cigarette smoking, the Dalkon Shield, Bendectin, MTBE, and asbestos.

The course will employ a "case method" -- not the typical study of appellate decisions on particular issues but a "full" case method that examines entire cases, from dispute to filing to trial to appeals and beyond. The readings are mainly books about the cases-- historical accounts that put the litigation in context. These books include Gerald Stern, The Buffalo Creek Disaster; Jonathan Harr, A Civil Action; Peter Schuck, Agent Orange on Trial; David Lebedoff, Cleaning Up; Ken Feinberg, Who Gets What; and Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru, League of Denial. Judicial opinions and scholarly commentary will be assigned as supplementary readings. Readings will therefore be more extensive but less dense than typical law school courses.

Note: Students may enroll in an additional credit in order to expand the required 15 page paper into 30 pages with the aim of using the paper to satisfy the JD Writing Requirement. Students wishing to take this option should enroll in Law 579W Mass Torts Writing Credit. *LAW 579W MUST be added no later than 7th week of class.*

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Course Learning Outcomes: 
(a) Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law
(b) Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context


*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.