Advanced Torts

LAW 1602 v00 Advanced Topics in Torts: Products Liability, Guns, and Drugs

J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours

This upper level course will cover the law of products liability generally and take a close look at the state of products liability litigation and liability in relation to guns and to opioids. The goal is to combine a survey of the complicated field of products liability law with a sophisticated deep dive into two areas of cutting edge products liability litigation.The first part of the course will familiarize students with major topics applicable to all products manufacturers including: a product distributor’s liability for defect-caused harm, allocating responsibility inside and outside the commercial chain of distribution, causation, affirmative defenses, approaches to design defect litigation, and federal preemption of products liability claims. Later in the course, we will examine gun manufacturer liability, currently and prior to the passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which reshaped the landscape of gun litigation. Finally, we will end with a consideration of the growing litigation related to the opioids, litigation inflected by doctrines peculiar to prescription drug manufacturer liability. The final examination will be a self-scheduled 48 hour take home exam. Attendance and participation are crucial to the course, and significant credit will be given to those students who contribute thoughtfully and constructively to class discussion of cases and issues.

LAW 088 v00 Class Action Law and Practice

J.D. Course | 2 credit hours

Class actions in such diverse areas as securities and corporate governance, employment discrimination, toxic torts, mass accidents, and consumer fraud have challenged the capacity and creativity of federal and state courts throughout the Nation. New forms of class suits continue to pose challenging questions for the judiciary. This seminar will focus on the class action device as an attempt to resolve disputes on an aggregate basis. The principal focus will be on emerging procedural and constitutional issues raised in recent and pending class action suits, and the treatment of those issues in the Supreme Court and federal courts of appeals. The seminar will explore these issues by evaluating class actions in a variety of settings, focusing on appellate decisions that have resolved (or failed to resolve) significant issues in class action law and practice as well as case-studies of pending or recently decided class actions. The seminar will cover all phases of a class action, including pleading and other pre-certification issues, the certification decision, appeals from class certification decisions, class notice, settlement issues, trial, and the legal doctrines governing simultaneous overlapping federal and state-court litigation.

Prerequisite: Civil Procedure (or the equivalent Legal Process and Society).

LAW 223 v02 Insurance Law: Litigation and Regulation

J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours

This course focuses on the law of insurance, the insurance of business, and the business of insurance. Questions concerning property and casualty insurance, including insurance for mass torts, product liability, directors’ and officers’ liability, and natural disasters are examined. The obligations of insurance companies to conduct their business according to state and, to some extent, federal regulation and the law of insurance bad faith are explored. Particular types of coverages that will be studied include homeowners insurance, comprehensive general liability (CGL) insurance, excess and umbrella insurance, D&O insurance, and property insurance (including business-interruption/lost-profits insurance). Students will develop sophisticated skills in analyzing the applicability of insurance to complex loss situations, the duties of insureds and insurance companies, and the ethical questions faced by lawyers sometimes caught in between.

Note: The course does not address life, disability, or health insurance, or ERISA.

Learning Objectives:

In this course, you will learn:

  1. Business context and objectives for insurance transactions.
  2. How to parse and interpret insurance-policy language.
  3. How property-casualty insurance responds to “real world” situations, involving losses to property including from natural disasters, mass tort claims, shareholder claims, and other situations.
  4. How courts and law makers create incentives for insurance companies to act in positive ways. This includes questions of insurance company “bad faith” or good faith, the obligation of an insurer to accept a reasonable settlement offer from a plaintiff, obligations of insurers to provide lawyers to defend the insured and the ethical limits on the role of the lawyer, including when the lawyer is selected by the insured rather than the insurance company.
  5. Through reviewing excerpts from briefs, students will gain a better appreciation of how to articulate insurance-law points and make appropriate argument.
  6. The reading material introduces the wide variety of relevant sources that may assist lawyers, such as cases, articles/treatises, attorneys-general opinions, bar-association ethics opinions, and actual insurance policies.

Prerequisite: Torts (or Government Processes), Civil Procedure (or Legal Process and Society), and Contracts (or Bargain, Exchange, and Liability).

Recommended: Corporations.

LAW 611 v11 Internet Defamation Simulation: Alternative Dispute Resolution in a Transnational Dispute

J.D. Seminar | 1 credit hour

This Week One simulation course is designed to introduce you to some of the issues that arise in transnational disputes and the skills employed by lawyers in representing clients in the context of an international dispute resolution proceeding. The course uses a single problem involving an article on a California news website alleging that a French plaintiff used his wine export business to launder money for organized crime figures in Russia and Italy. The French plaintiff has alleged that he was defamed by the article, and the parties, which also include a U.S.-based web hosting service, have agreed to resolve the dispute through an international arbitration proceeding.

Students will be assigned roles and will work in teams, representing one of the three parties to the dispute. They will begin the week by conducting client interviews to ascertain the facts from their client’s perspective. After debriefing on the client interview process, students will prepare for a simulated international arbitration hearing in which each student will argue whether French or United States (or some other) law should govern the dispute. Upperclass teaching fellows, in the role of arbitrators for the dispute, will render a decision on the choice of law issue, and students will then prepare for and represent their clients in a mediation session to try to settle the case on the merits.

The assigned readings and classroom sessions during the week are designed to prepare students to engage in the simulated client interview, arbitration hearing, and mediation session. The materials and classes will introduce the theory and doctrine governing components of defamation law in several jurisdictions, limitations on liability for Internet Service Providers under U.S. and French law, choice of law theory and methodology, and techniques for preparing for arguments, interviewing clients, and conducting mediation sessions.

Note: FIRST-YEAR WEEK ONE COURSE: This course will meet on the following days: Monday, January 6, 2020, through Thursday, January 9, 2020. This course is mandatory pass/fail, and does NOT count against the 7-credit pass/fail limit for J.D. students.

This optional, elective course is for first-year J.D. students only, who are enrolled through a lottery process.

ATTENDANCE AT ALL CLASS SESSIONS IS MANDATORY. All enrolled and waitlisted students must be in attendance at the start of the first class session in order to be eligible for a seat in the class and must attend each class session in its entirety. For more information, see the Week One website.  

Due to the intensive nature of the course, the small-group, team, and individual work that is involved, and the preparation that is necessary to ensure a positive student experience, students who wish to drop the course after they have accepted a seat must drop by Monday, December 2, at 3:00 p.m. After that point, permission to drop from the course professor and Assistant Dean for Experiential Learning is required. Students who are enrolled but do not attend the first class session will be withdrawn from the course.    

LAW 1426 v00 Medical Malpractice Seminar

J.D. Seminar (cross-listed) | 2-3 credit hours

This seminar focuses on the empirical literature on medical malpractice, medical malpractice litigation, and tort reform. We will cover physician and institutional liability, health care quality and medical error, the economics of litigating medical malpractice cases, the market for representation, the causes of malpractice crises, and the effect of the reforms that have resulted (and been proposed).

Note: This seminar requires a paper. J.D. students must register for the 3 credit section of the seminar if they wish to write a paper fulfilling the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement. The paper requirements of the 2 credit section will not fulfill the J.D. Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement.

LAW 364 v06 Public Health Law and Ethics

J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours

This course explores the interwoven dynamics of legal and ethical aspects of public health issues in the United States and abroad, including infectious diseases, tobacco use, obesity, and the environment, among others. This course will be valuable for students interested in global health law, as well as students looking to broaden and deepen their expertise in preparation for a career in health law more generally.

This course will proceed in three movements. First, it will consider the conceptual foundations of public health law in the United States through the lens of governance, ethics, and human rights, affording particular attention to the statutory and regulatory powers and duties of federal and state governmental entities to protect the health and safety of the population. Second, it will examine the sources of tension between the objectives of public health and civil liberties including, among others: labeling and advertising restrictions and free speech; disease surveillance and privacy; and considerations in personal versus population-based conceptions of health. Lastly, this course will conclude by considering emerging public health issues at the intersection of law and ethics, such as biosecurity, vaccine policy, and the role for public health in broader discussions around health care reform in the United States.

LAW 364 v07 Public Health Law and Ethics

J.D. Course (cross-listed) | 3 credit hours

This course explores the interwoven dynamics of law, ethics, and science in public health through examination of core legal theory and practice-based examples. With COVID-19 ushering law, policy, and decision-making around public health into broad public awareness, this class will draw upon current and emerging issues in society, enabling students to apply legal and ethical concepts to real-world scenarios. By spotlighting recent and historical examples of public health law in action, including COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, tobacco use, obesity, the environment, and the broader social determinants of health, this course will be valuable for students interested broadly in health law and equity, as well as students seeking to deepen their expertise in public policy.

Students will learn the conceptual foundations of public health law in the United States, with particular attention to the statutory and regulatory powers and duties of federal and state governmental entities to protect the health and safety of the population and the judicial decisions that shape them. Sources of tension between public health goals and objectives and civil liberties will be interactively contemplated, including, among others: disease surveillance and privacy; labeling and advertising restrictions and free speech; and considerations around individual versus population-based conceptions of health. Throughout the course, students will engage with public health law through applied learning—case studies and exercises—focused on addressing public health issues, comparing national and global responses, and developing legal and policy strategies that integrate health equity.

Full-time and Visiting Faculty

Heidi Li Feldman
Jonathan T. Molot
Brishen Rogers
Paul F. Rothstein
Franz Werro