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, 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; and David Lebedoff, Cleaning Up. 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.

Please note that course organization and content may vary substantially from semester to semester and descriptions are not necessarily professor specific. Please contact the instructor directly if you have particular course-related questions.

Prerequisite Information

There are no formal prerequisites, but students may find this seminar especially enriching if taken after or during courses such as: Appellate Practice, Complex Civil Litigation, Dispute Resolution, Economic Analysis of Law, Federal Courts, Trial Practice

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