FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Muscle of Justice

The common law of torts, which originated from English common law, has been elaborated in tens of thousands of judicial decisions with one basic message: If a person suffers a wrongful injury or harm, he or she can seek remedy in court with a trial by jury. Through tort law, our civil justice system operates to compensate victims, punish perpetrators and deter future harms. For years this system has been under sustained assault in Congress and state legislatures. Corporations, with their enormous lobbying influence, have few qualms about lobbying to limit Americans’ right to their day in court.

Tort law is one of the major pillars of our legal system. It provides crucial protections for individuals. Tort law has helped people harmed by defective products, medical malpractice, toxic chemical spills and much more. It sees that families are compensated for devastating losses; prevents future injuries, deaths or accidents by deterring dangerous products and practices; and spurs safety innovation and enforceable safety standards. Tort law provides a moral and ethical fiber for our society by defining appropriate norms of conduct and care. The late Peter Lewis, the former chairman of Progressive Insurance, once told me that tort law functions as his industry’s incentive for “quality control.”

The ongoing assault on the civil justice system in our country has resulted in a lessened public appreciation of the law of torts. Now comes the American Museum of Tort Law.

In the planning stages for many years, the museum is set to open in the fall of this year in my hometown of Winsted, Connecticut. The American Museum of Tort Law will be the first law museum in the country. This nonprofit, educational institution will seek to increase citizen understanding of tort law and its pivotal role in the protection of personal freedom and safety of millions of Americans. And it will celebrate the historical and contemporary achievements of the civil justice system.

What one can expect when visiting the museum later this year? Captivating displays will illustrate the history of exemplary cases, incorporating real artifacts and media. The exhibits will tell stories that illuminate the underlying principles of law and appeal to not just members of the legal profession but the many other Americans interested in learning about this important cornerstone of our legal system.

Some notable exhibits are cases that established new precedents for different wrongful injuries, such as the famous T.J. Hooper case. Cases of more contemporary significance range from those harmed by asbestos insulation to those harmed by the tobacco industry and defective motor vehicles.

In addition to housing these and many other physical exhibits, the museum will be an important digital clearinghouse for reports and commentaries on contemporary developments and judicial decisions in tort law. This will be a most valuable resource for students, scholars, the media, and the public.

There are thousands of museums in the United States — ones for every sport, many fruits and vegetables, even 30 timber and lumber museums! But, surprisingly, there are no law museums. The many victories and advancements to health and safety that have come from the law of torts and the constitutional right of trial by jury deserve a serious upswing in public recognition. We hope you will visit this first-of-its-kind institution later this year and be fascinated and enlightened by a unique museum experience.

Ralph Nader’s latest book is: Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail