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November 1988 Archives

Liability: Perspectives and Policy

Liability: Perspectives and Policy is an in-depth look inside the medical malpractice insurance crisis of the 1980s. The authors, economists and liability law experts, examine how medical malpractice law accomplishes its twin goals of compensation and deterrence, the rapid expansion of liability that led to "an unprecedented growth in personal injury lawsuits," and the relationship between rising litigation costs and medical malpractice insurance costs and availability. The book concludes that the rise in insurance premiums is due to fundamental changes in the use of the tort system, but notes that without adequate information on the effects of these changes, a path to reform is unclear.

New Directions in Liability Law

What caused liability insurance rates to rise so dramatically in the 1980s? In New Directions in Liability Law, a series of papers from a 1987 conference cosponsored by the Academy of Political Science and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, legal scholars debate whether this increase is due to behavior by insurance companies or is the result of rapidly expanding liability in contemporary tort law. Contributing authors such as now-Judge Michael McConnell, economist Kip Viscusi and Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Peter Huber discuss what, if anything, can be done about the liability insurance crisis.
The former Chief Justice of West Virginia's highest court argues that the product liability system must be reformed. The author brings an inside view of the crisis, noting that "[a]s a state court judge, much of my time is devoted to designing elaborate new ways to make business pay for everyone else's bad luck´┐Ż[so I can] sleep well at night." Neely examines the causes of expanded liability during the 1970s and 1980s, its logical extension into the future, and proposes solutions, including the increased use of federal courts in product liability cases and Supreme Court oversight.
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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.