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University of Michigan Law School

Torts

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Full-Text Articles in Law

A Post-Spokeo Taxonomy Of Intangible Harms, Jackson Erpenbach Dec 2019

A Post-Spokeo Taxonomy Of Intangible Harms, Jackson Erpenbach

Michigan Law Review

Article III standing is a central requirement in federal litigation. The Supreme Court’s Spokeo decision marked a significant development in the doctrine, dividing the concrete injury-in-fact requirement into two subsets: tangible and intangible harms. While tangible harms are easily cognizable, plaintiffs alleging intangible harms can face a perilous path to court. This raises particular concern for the system of federal consumer protection laws where enforcement relies on consumers vindicating their own rights by filing suit when companies violate federal law. These plaintiffs must often allege intangible harms arising out of their statutorily guaranteed rights. This Note demonstrates that Spokeo ...


Should Automakers Be Responsible For Accidents?, Kyle D. Logue May 2019

Should Automakers Be Responsible For Accidents?, Kyle D. Logue

Articles

Motor vehicles are among the most dangerous products sold anywhere. Automobiles pose a larger risk of accidental death than any other product, except perhaps opioids. Annual autocrash deaths in the United States have not been below 30,000 since the 1940s, reaching a recent peak of roughly 40,000 in 2016. And the social cost of auto crashes goes beyond deaths. Auto-accident victims who survive often incur extraordinary medical expenses. Those crash victims whose injuries render them unable to work experience lost income. Auto accidents also cause nontrivial amounts of property damage—mostly to the automobiles themselves, but also to ...


Qualified Immunity And Constitutional Structure, Katherine Mims Crocker May 2019

Qualified Immunity And Constitutional Structure, Katherine Mims Crocker

Michigan Law Review

A range of scholars has subjected qualified immunity to a wave of criticism— and for good reasons. But the Supreme Court continues to apply the doctrine in ever more aggressive ways. By advancing two claims, this Article seeks to make some sense of this conflict and to suggest some thoughts toward a resolution.

First, while the Court has offered and scholars have rejected several rationales for the doctrine, layering in an account grounded in structural constitutional concerns provides a historically richer and analytically thicker understanding of the current qualified-immunity regime. For suits against federal officials, qualified immunity acts as a ...


Tort Justice Reform, Paul David Stern Apr 2019

Tort Justice Reform, Paul David Stern

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

This Article calls for a comprehensive reform of public tort law with respect to law enforcement conduct. It articulates an effective and equitable remedial regime that reconciles the aspirational goals of public tort law with the practical realities of devising payment and disciplinary procedures that are responsive to tort settlements and judgments. This proposed statutory scheme seeks to deter law enforcement misconduct without disincentivizing prudent officers from performing their duties or overburdening them with extensive litigation. Rather than lamenting the dissolution of Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics or the insurmountability of qualified immunity, reform ...


21st Century Cures Act: The Problem With Preemption In Light Of Deregulation, Megan C. Andersen Apr 2019

21st Century Cures Act: The Problem With Preemption In Light Of Deregulation, Megan C. Andersen

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

The 21st Century Cures Act introduced innovative changes to the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory processes. In an effort to address the slow, costly, and burdensome approval process for high-risk devices, the Cures Act modernized clinical trial data by allowing reviewers to determine whether devices merit expedited review and to consider post-market surveillance data in the premarket approval process. These changes will get life-saving devices to the people who need them faster than ever before. But the tradeoff is a greater risk of injury to the patient. The 2008 Supreme Court decision Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., held that any ...


Let’S Be Reasonable: The Consumer Expectations Test Is Simply Not Viable To Determine Design Defect For Complex Autonomous Vehicle Technology, Emily Frascaroli, John Isaac Southerland, Elizabeth Davis, Woods Parker Jan 2019

Let’S Be Reasonable: The Consumer Expectations Test Is Simply Not Viable To Determine Design Defect For Complex Autonomous Vehicle Technology, Emily Frascaroli, John Isaac Southerland, Elizabeth Davis, Woods Parker

Journal of Law and Mobility

Although highly automated vehicles (“HAVs”) have potential to reduce deaths and injuries from traffic crashes, product liability litigation for design defects in vehicles incorporating autonomous technology is inevitable. During the early stages of implementation, courts and juries will be forced to grapple with the application of traditional product liability principles to a never before experienced category of highly technical products. Recent decisions limiting the use of the consumer expectations test in cases involving complex products prompted the authors to examine more closely the history behind and the future viability of the consumer expectations test in HAV litigation.


The Deterrence Case For Comprehensive Automaker Enterprise Liability, Kyle D. Logue Jan 2019

The Deterrence Case For Comprehensive Automaker Enterprise Liability, Kyle D. Logue

Journal of Law and Mobility

This Article lays out the potential (at this point purely theoretical) deterrence benefits of replacing our current auto tort regime (including auto products liability law, driver-based negligence claims, and auto no-fault regimes) with a single, comprehensive automaker enterprise liability system. This new regime would apply not only to Level 5 vehicles, but to all automobiles made and sold to be driven on public roads. Because such a system would make automakers unconditionally responsible for the economic losses resulting from any crashes of their vehicles, it would in effect make automakers into auto insurers as well, although such a change will ...


Gossip And Gore: A Ghoulish Journey Into A Philosophical Thicket, Sean Hannon Williams Apr 2018

Gossip And Gore: A Ghoulish Journey Into A Philosophical Thicket, Sean Hannon Williams

Michigan Law Review

A review of Don Herzog, Defaming the Dead.


Punishment But Not A Penalty? Punitive Damages Are Impermissible Under Foreign Substantive Law, Paul A. Hoversten Mar 2018

Punishment But Not A Penalty? Punitive Damages Are Impermissible Under Foreign Substantive Law, Paul A. Hoversten

Michigan Law Review

It is a well-established principle that no court applies the penal laws of another sovereign. But what exactly is a penal law? According to Judge Cardozo, a penal law effects “vindication of the public justice” rather than “reparation to one aggrieved.” Although courts have historically treated punitive damages as a purely civil remedy, that attitude has shifted over time. Modern American punitive damages serve not to compensate the plaintiff but to punish the defendant on behalf of the whole community. Therefore, when courts rely on foreign substantive law to impose punitive damages, they arguably violate the well-established principle that no ...


Minimum Virtual Contacts: A Framework For Specific Jurisdiction In Cyberspace, Adam R. Kleven Mar 2018

Minimum Virtual Contacts: A Framework For Specific Jurisdiction In Cyberspace, Adam R. Kleven

Michigan Law Review

As the ubiquity and importance of the internet continue to grow, courts will address more cases involving online activity. In doing so, courts will confront the threshold issue of whether a defendant can be subject to specific personal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court, however, has yet to speak to this internet-jurisdiction issue. Current precedent, when strictly applied to the internet, yields fundamentally unfair results when addressing specific jurisdiction. To better achieve the fairness aim of due process, this must change. This Note argues that, in internet tort cases, the “express aiming” requirement should be discarded from the jurisdictional analysis and that ...


Negligent Entrustment In Gun Industry Litigation: A Primer, Kate E. Britt Jan 2018

Negligent Entrustment In Gun Industry Litigation: A Primer, Kate E. Britt

Law Librarian Scholarship

Deep pocket jurisprudence, where plaintiffs name corporations as codefendants of less wealthy individual tortfeasors, is not uncommon in tort litigation. When the plaintiffs are victims of gun violence and the corporate defendants are firearms manufacturers, however, these suits are particularly controversial. Instead of aiming to make the victims whole, these suits are opposed (or supported) as attempts to regulate the firearms industry on a widespread basis. This article explores some of the resources available to understand the recent history of suits against firearms manufacturers.


Treating Wrongs As Wrongs: An Expressive Argument For Tort Law, Scott Hershovitz Nov 2017

Treating Wrongs As Wrongs: An Expressive Argument For Tort Law, Scott Hershovitz

Articles

The idea that criminal punishment carries a message of condemnation is as commonplace as could be. Indeed, many think that condemnation is the mark of punishment, distinguishing it from other sorts of penalties or burdens. But for all that torts and crimes share in common, nearly no one thinks that tort has similar expressive aims. And that is unfortunate, as the truth is that tort is very much an expressive institution, with messages to send that are different, but no less important, than those conveyed by the criminal law. In this essay, I argue that tort liability expresses the judgment ...


Products Liability And The Internet Of (Insecure) Things: Should Manufacturers Be Liable For Damage Caused By Hacked Devices?, Alan Butler Jun 2017

Products Liability And The Internet Of (Insecure) Things: Should Manufacturers Be Liable For Damage Caused By Hacked Devices?, Alan Butler

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

While the application of products liability to insecure software is a frequently-discussed concept in academic literature, many commentators have been skeptical of the viability of such claims for several reasons. First, the economic loss doctrine bars recovery for productivity loss, business disruption, and other common damages caused by software defects. Second, the application of design defects principles to software is difficult given the complexity of the devices and recent tort reform trends that have limited liability. Third, the intervening cause of damage from insecure software is typically a criminal or tortious act by a third party, so principles of causation ...


Private Rights And Private Wrongs, Andrew S. Gold Apr 2017

Private Rights And Private Wrongs, Andrew S. Gold

Michigan Law Review

Review of Private Wrongs by Arthur Ripstein.


Retaliatory Rico And The Puzzle Of Fraudulent Claiming, Nora Freeman Engstrom Mar 2017

Retaliatory Rico And The Puzzle Of Fraudulent Claiming, Nora Freeman Engstrom

Michigan Law Review

Over the past century, the allegation that the tort liability system incentivizes legal extortion and is chock-full of fraudulent claims has dominated public discussion and prompted lawmakers to ever-more-creatively curtail individuals’ incentives and opportunities to seek redress. Unsatisfied with these conventional efforts, in recent years, at least a dozen corporate defendants have “discovered” a new fraud-fighting tool. They’ve started filing retaliatory RICO suits against plaintiffs and their lawyers and experts, alleging that the initiation of certain non meritorious litigation constitutes racketeering activity— while tort reform advocates have applauded these efforts and exhorted more “courageous” companies to follow suit. Curiously ...


Wrongs Without Rights. Review Of Wrongs, Rights, And Third Parties, By N. Cornell., Scott Hershovitz Jan 2017

Wrongs Without Rights. Review Of Wrongs, Rights, And Third Parties, By N. Cornell., Scott Hershovitz

Reviews

The word “wrong” is the source of much confusion, in part because it does double duty. “You set the table wrong,” I might say, noting that you’ve misplaced the forks and knives. When I say that, I imply that there’s a standard against which place settings are properly judged, and that you’ve mucked things up by failing to match it. This use of the word “wrong” pops up all over the place: “You took a wrong turn.” “That’s the wrong answer.” “Why do I get everything wrong?” But there’s another way to use the word ...


A Survey Of Legal Issues Arising From The Deployment Of Autonomous And Connected Vehicles, Daniel A. Crane, Kyle D. Logue, Bryce C. Pilz Jan 2017

A Survey Of Legal Issues Arising From The Deployment Of Autonomous And Connected Vehicles, Daniel A. Crane, Kyle D. Logue, Bryce C. Pilz

Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review

With concerns rising over the number and variety of state regulations, companies are increasingly looking to the federal government for guidance. Representatives from Google, GM, Lyft, and Delphi testified before Congress on March 15, urging Congress to pass a federal law concerning autonomous vehicles. While the passage of any federal legislation is unclear at this time, other parts of the federal government have been extremely active in recent months. In January 2016, the Obama administration proposed a 10-year, $4 billion investment in autonomous vehicle technology. In that same announcement, the Department of Transportation (“DOT”) committed to developing model state policy ...


The Search For A Grand Unified Theory Of Tort Law., Scott Hershovitz Jan 2017

The Search For A Grand Unified Theory Of Tort Law., Scott Hershovitz

Reviews

Theorists like to do a lot with a little. And not just because simple theories seem more elegant: we deepen our understanding when we learn that disparate phenomena are linked together. In physics, for example, the theory of thermodynamics showed us the relationship between mechanics and heat. In economics, the theory of the firm showed us that, across industries that look nothing alike, a simple principle helps explain the organization of economic activity. Of course, there is no guarantee that the disparate phenomena we suspect are linked actually are. Particle physicists continue to search for a Grand Unified Theory, which ...


Resolving The Divided Patent Infringement Dilemma, Nathanial Grow Nov 2016

Resolving The Divided Patent Infringement Dilemma, Nathanial Grow

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

This Article considers cases of divided patent infringement: those in which two or more parties collectively perform all the steps of a patented claim, but where no single party acting alone has completed the entire patented invention. Despite the increasing frequency with which such cases appear to be arising, courts have struggled to equitably resolve these lawsuits under the constraints of the existing statutory framework because of the competing policy concerns they present. On the one hand, any standard that holds two or more parties strictly liable whenever their combined actions infringe a patent risks imposing liability on countless seemingly ...


It Is Time For Washington State To Take A Stand Against Holmes's Bad Man: The Value Of Punitive Damages In Deterring Big Business And International Tortfeasors, Jackson Pahlke Nov 2016

It Is Time For Washington State To Take A Stand Against Holmes's Bad Man: The Value Of Punitive Damages In Deterring Big Business And International Tortfeasors, Jackson Pahlke

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

In Washington State, tortfeasors get a break when they commit intentional torts. Instead of receiving more punishment for their planned bad act, intentional tortfeasors are punished as if they committed a mere accident. The trend does not stop in Washington State—nationwide, punitive damage legislation inadequately deters intentional wrongdoers through caps and outright bans on punitive damages. Despite Washington State’s one hundred and twenty-five year ban on punitive damages, it is in a unique and powerful position to change the way courts across the country deal with intentional tortfeasors. Since Washington has never had a comprehensive punitive damages framework ...


Three Problems (And Two Solutions) In The Law Of Partnership Formation, Shawn Bayern Apr 2016

Three Problems (And Two Solutions) In The Law Of Partnership Formation, Shawn Bayern

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

This Article considers several foundational questions concerning the formation of general partnerships, a topic that has received little modern attention and that is governed largely by classical axioms rather than adaptive modern considerations. Its three main topics concern (1) the timing of partnership formation, (2) the aggregation of multiple distinct questions under the single heading of “partnership formation,” and (3) the rarely challenged proposition that general partners ought to be liable for partnership obligations, a doctrine that is surprisingly at odds with the rest of modern business-entity law.


To Touch And Concern The United States With Sufficient Force: How American Due Process And Choice Of Law Cases Inform The Reach Of The Alien Tort Statute After Kiobel, Karima Tawfik Apr 2016

To Touch And Concern The United States With Sufficient Force: How American Due Process And Choice Of Law Cases Inform The Reach Of The Alien Tort Statute After Kiobel, Karima Tawfik

Michigan Journal of International Law

This Note explores the post-Kiobel ATS cases and argues that the Fourth Circuit’s approach to considering claims that manifest a close connection to the United States as potentially entitling the plaintiff to relief under the ATS is preferable to approaches that categorically bar claims when the alleged conduct has occurred abroad. Part I describes the Kiobel decision in more depth and the subsequent ATS case law to outline the contours of recent circuit cases. Part II demonstrates how domestic personal jurisdiction and choice of law principles weigh in favor of a more expansive reading of the ATS, as ...


Where Kafka Reigns: A Call For Metamorphosis In Unlawful Detainer Law, John Campbell Apr 2016

Where Kafka Reigns: A Call For Metamorphosis In Unlawful Detainer Law, John Campbell

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

This story reflects a new reality in which nonjudicial foreclosure, combined with draconian unlawful detainer laws, concretizes the injuries associated with wrongful foreclosure, degrades the perceived legitimacy of the courts, and suppresses valid claims of wrongful foreclosure. Indeed, this very scenario happens regularly in a variety of states. This story is a very real tale of how homeowners are harmed by a foreclosure process that has largely escaped scholarly review. Rooted in the belief that sunshine is a powerful disinfectant, this Article aims to shed light on states that hogtie homeowners and makes a normative argument that such a process ...


Why And How To Compensate Exonerees, Erik Encarnacion Jan 2016

Why And How To Compensate Exonerees, Erik Encarnacion

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

How can we bring greater uniformity to exoneree compensation in a principled and just way? This paper argues that answering this question becomes easier once we identify the principles of justice that best justify and explain compensation statutes. In particular, commentators have assumed incorrectly that the goal of compensating exonerees should be understood primarily in terms of corrective justice, which posits a duty to undo or repair wrongfully inflicted harms. This paper argues, by contrast, that restitutionary justice, which forces parties to relinquish unjust gains, better justifies and explains compensation statutes. The unjust gains at issue are fair wages withheld ...


In Praise Of (Some) Ex Post Regulation: A Response To Professor Galle, Kyle D. Logue Jan 2016

In Praise Of (Some) Ex Post Regulation: A Response To Professor Galle, Kyle D. Logue

Articles

According to modern law-and-economics (“L&E”) orthodoxy, the primary—maybe even the only—legitimate justification for government regulation is to correct a market failure. This conclusion is based on two key assumptions. First, when markets are functioning reasonably well, they are better at achieving efficiency than the government is. Second, most markets function reasonably well most of the time. Although there is probably evidence to support these assumptions (for example, the relative prosperity of market-based economies in comparison with the relative poverty of centrally planned economies), both assumptions are usually taken as articles of faith by mainstream L&E scholars ...


An Opt-In Option For Class Actions, Scott Dodson Jan 2016

An Opt-In Option For Class Actions, Scott Dodson

Michigan Law Review

Federal class actions today follow an opt-out model: absent an affirmative request to opt out, a class member is in the class. Supporters defend the opt-out model as necessary to ensure the viability of class actions and the efficacy of substantive law. Critics argue the opt-out model is a poor proxy for class-member consent and promotes overbroad and ill-defined classes; these critics favor an opt-in model. This bimodal debate—opt out vs. opt in—has obscured an overlooked middle ground that relies on litigant choice: Why not give the class the option to pursue certification on either an opt-out or ...


Encouraging Insurers To Regulate: The Role (If Any) For Tort Law, Kyle D. Logue Dec 2015

Encouraging Insurers To Regulate: The Role (If Any) For Tort Law, Kyle D. Logue

Articles

Insurance companies are financially responsible for a substantial portion of the losses associated with risky activities in the economy. The more insurers can lower the risks posed by their insureds, the more competitively they can price their policies, and the more customers they can attract. Thus, competition forces insurers to be private regulators of risk. To that end, insurers deploy a range of techniques to encourage their insureds to reduce the risks of their insured activities, from charging experience-rated premiums to discounting premium rates for insureds who make specific behavioral changes designed to reduce risk. Somewhat paradoxically, however, tort law ...


Too Many Cooks In The Climate Change Kitchen: The Case For An Administrative Remedy For Damages Caused By Increased Greenhouse Gas Concentrations, Benjamin Reese May 2015

Too Many Cooks In The Climate Change Kitchen: The Case For An Administrative Remedy For Damages Caused By Increased Greenhouse Gas Concentrations, Benjamin Reese

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

Recent federal and state court decisions have made clear that federal common law claims against emitters of greenhouse gases are not sustainable; however, those same courts seem to have given state common law tort claims the green light, at least if the claims are brought in the state where the polluters are located. This Note contends that such suits are not an adequate remedy for those injured by climate change because they will face nearly insurmountable barriers in state court, and because there are major policy-level drawbacks to relying on state tort law rather than a federal solution. This Note ...


A Sea Change In Creditor Priorities, Kristen Van De Biezenbos Apr 2015

A Sea Change In Creditor Priorities, Kristen Van De Biezenbos

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

This Article argues that the operation of maritime law undermines a primary justification for creditor priorities under U.S. law. Under current law, when a debtor becomes insolvent, its secured creditors will be paid the full amount of their debt to the extent of their security interest, even if that leaves nothing to pay unsecured creditors. This is controversial with respect to involuntary unsecured creditors, particularly those with tort claims against the debtor. Defenders of this scheme of priorities have argued that allowing greater priority to involuntary creditors would hinder the availability or increase the cost of credit. However, involuntary ...


Legal Pluralism In Tort Law Theory: Balancing Instrumental Theories And Corrective Justice, Benjamin Shmueli Apr 2015

Legal Pluralism In Tort Law Theory: Balancing Instrumental Theories And Corrective Justice, Benjamin Shmueli

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Unified-monistic theories of tort law focus on a single goal, usually corrective justice, distributive justice, or optimal deterrence. Unlike these approaches, mixedpluralistic theories attempt to balance between various goals of tort law by integrating several of the considerations underlying these different goals. These theories of legal pluralism reflect ideological diversity, in this case between different theories of the same legal system. This Article discusses the challenge of legal pluralism to settle the possible collision between different goals of tort law within the framework of tort law theory. Starting from a position of support for the mixed-pluralistic thesis, this Article first ...