This course will examine personal injury litigation against health care providers (physicians, nurses, hospitals and HMO's, to name a few) in the context of law and bioethics. Thus, the major components of the course are personal injury litigation and law and bioethics. As to the former, law students are familiar with personal injury litigation -- at least in the automobile collision context. Medical liability litigation introduces many complexities, including, but in no way limited to: Challenging nuances concerning procedural requirements; financing cases; obtaining and qualifying experts; the standard of care, causation, damages, joint and vicarious liability; product liability; and tort reform. This aspect of the course is extremely practical, and it serves as a good preparation for future involvement in any type of civil litigation.
As to bioethics and law, even most judges and law professors are not quite sure what it is. I define it as study of the ethical and legal ramifications of scientific and medical advances that fragment and rearrange certain natural processes, conditions or relationships and social arrangements resting on them. This fragmenting and reassembly is often found in distinct areas addressed in separate parts of the course text, Bioethics and Law (M. Shapiro, R. Spece, et al. eds. 2003): Biomedical research and experimentation; control of mind and behavior; reproductive choice; control of genetics; death and dying; transplantation and implantation of artificial organs and tissues; and enhancement of human attributes. This facet of the course enables students to sharpen their ability to analyze the moral, policy and constitutional aspects of important, complex and dynamic controversies.
An example of the intersection between personal injury litigation and bioethics is a lawsuit that was brought by the survivors of a young man from Tucson who died as a result of experimental genetic therapy administered to him at the University of Pennsylvania.
Bioethics and Law (M. Shapiro, R. Spece, et al. eds. 2003)
Lecture and discussion.
|Type of Exam||
In-class examination or paper at student's option.
|Basis for grading|
If paper is chosen, the student is allowed three absences only. A borderline grade can be raised for quality class participation.