Course - Law


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American tort law breeds controversy— damages determined by juries, standards that vary from state to state, punitive damages awards that provide plaintiffs more than full compensation. How do other countries address universal problems of injury response? In this class, we will learn about the tort law of other countries, particularly nations within the European Union and China. How do these countries view the mission of tort law?  What sorts of standards to they apply to injured parties who seek recovery? Are common international norms developing in particular areas such as medical malpractice or products liability? What do divergences suggest with respect to potential directions for U.S. law? In this course we will learn more about other legal systems and discuss the ways in which those systems shed light on the unique features, challenges and strengths of U.S. tort law. 


Students will be required to purchase the European Group on Tort Law’s Principles of European Tort Law. The remainder of our readings will be made available through a course packet and/or on forums.

Course Format

The course will meet once a week for approximately two hours. The course will be in a discussion format.  Technology permitting, we will have occasional video conversations with leading torts scholars from other countries.

Written Assignments

Students will write five one-page single-spaced reflection papers on the class readings.

Type of Exam

8 hour take-home essay exam.

Basis for grading

Class participation- 25%

5 one-page single-spaced reflection papers- 50% (10% each)

8 hour take-home easy exam- 25%


Additional Comments

Students who wish to write a substantial paper on a comparative tort topic may consult with the professor about enrolling in the 3 unit student-initiated substantial paper option.  All students who enroll for the 2 unit seminar must complete all of the requirements above.  

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