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November 1996 Archives

Exploring the Domain of Accident Law

In this empirical critique of the tort system and its alternatives, authors Dewees, Duff, and Trebilock examine medical malpractice, product liability, and environmental tort law to determine how well the tort system meets its three major goals: compensation, deterrence, and corrective justice. Regulatory and compensatory alternatives are analyzed using the same criteria. The results of the analysis are mixed: for example, tort law does help to deter automobile accidents, but fails to compensate its victims. The authors conclude that although a general replacement of the tort system would not be prudent, certain areas of tort law would be more effective if replaced by alternatives means of compensation and enforcement.

Reforming the Civil Justice System

Reforming the Civil Justice System, a collection of articles edited by Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer, documents the liability explosion of the last quarter of the twentieth century. The book focuses on fundamental changes to the justice system in three areas: pre-trial settlements, the use of scientific evidence in trials, and the guidance juries receive before determining damage awards for pain and suffering. The authors explain the problems in each area, and propose solutions for reform. The articles also examine the changes in law schools as they continue to move from strictly professional schools to centers of legal and interdisciplinary scholarship.
In Silence on Trial, Dr. Marcia Angell examines the bizarre history of the infamous breast implant controversy. She examines the reasons behind the FDA's ban on implants; the resulting (and continuing) litigation, which culminated in a $4.25 billion class action settlement; and the later revelation that breast implants were not, in actuality, dangerous. The author discusses why scientists and the courts ended up with different answers on the danger of implants, critiques the judicial system's use�or misuse�of scientific evidence, and explains how the system can be reformed.
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Legal Policy

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