The Pepperdine Law Review is hosting a symposium on April 16th, 2010 entitled, "Does the World Still Need United States Tort Law? Or Did it Ever?" The symposium will examine the present and future influence of United States tort law on other nations in light of globalization's rise and United States tort law's concurrent retrenchment on many fronts.
From the symposium's website:
Over the past century, United States tort law has served as a model, in many ways, for the world. Although most nations are less litigious and award less in damages, many nations have looked to the more active United States courts for guidance in forming and reforming tort doctrines. However, at the same time that globalization has rapidly expanded, since the 1980s United States tort law has retrenched on many fronts.
As we enter into the second decade of a new century: Is United States tort law still a beacon for the rest of the world? Should it be? Does 21st century United States tort law or the United States tort system have anything to offer the world to make it a better place?
The symposium speakers include Roger Alford (Pepperdine), Michael Bidart (Shernoff, Bidart & Echeverria), Ellen Bublick (University of Arizona), Richard L. Cupp (Pepperdine), John C.P. Goldberg (Harvard), Michael D. Green (Wake Forest), Ellen S. Pryor (SMU), Robert L. Rabin (Stanford), Michael L. Rustad (Suffolk), Victor E. Schwartz (Shook, Hardy & Bacon), Marshall S. Shapo (Northwestern), and Stephen D. Sugarman (Boalt Hall). International scholars speaking at the symposium include Peter Cane (Australian National University), Bruce Feldthusen (University of Ottawa), Lewis N. Klar (University of Alberta), the Honorable Allen M. Linden (Pepperdine; former judge of the Federal Court of Appeal of Canada), and Jane Stapleton (University of Texas). The Honorable Allen M. Linden will be honored at the symposium for his enormous contributions as a tort law scholar and teacher both in Canada and in the United States.
A limited number of stipends are available for law professors who wish to attend the symposium. Please contact Professor Richard Cupp at firstname.lastname@example.org regarding stipend applications. More information regarding the symposium is available here.
I'm going to get back to talking about recent scholarship that I've been enjoying soon, so as long as I'm thinking about such topics, I'd like to add that this symposium looks absolutely fabulous. One of the things that I'm very interested in is how tort law serves as a thermometer for larger issues in jurisprudence -- and particularly how tort law reflects US law's changing relationship to classical liberalism. In the nineteenth century, we thought each person should bear risk on her own; this attitude of each person on their own changed gradually over the course of the later and early parts of the twentieth century and reached its low point somewhere just after the middle of the twentieth century. I wonder how our current attitudes towards tort law relates to the attitudes in other countries -- are we increasingly in sync with those other countries, perhaps particularly developing countries, that people should bear their own risk? Or are other countries -- particularly the more socialist countries -- marching in the other direction? The contemporary stuff I don't know enough to have an informed opinion on, but I'm particularly interested in how different US jurisdictions approached these questions in the nineteenth century--and how judges of different political stripes approached this as well. Thinking in section terms, one might have asked in the pre-Civil War era, did the south need a northern tort law? Did the west? Or do Democratic states need a Whig tort law? A couple of my favorite books along these lines are Peter Karsten's Heart versus Head: Judge-Made Law in the Nineteenth Century and G. Edward White's Tort Law in America.