Curriculum Guide · Courses
Tort Law and the Common Law Process
Professor Joseph Page
LL.M Course 2029 | 3 credit hours
This course will use major areas of tort law, such as product liability, duties to aid strangers in peril, duties to protect against the negligent or criminal acts of third parties, duties owed by occupiers of land, proximate cause, affirmative defenses, personal-injury damages, invasion of privacy and the right to publicity, as contexts by which to examine the unique features of judicial law-making in the United States. Specifically geared for international students, and utilizing mostly New York cases (many of them well-known and highly influential), the course will look at how courts in the United States use precedent, how they make law when there is no applicable precedent, and how they change existing precedent. Special attention will be paid to how judges go about deciding issues involving the existence or modification of tort duties, how they apply factors such as public policy, economic reasoning and administration-of-justice considerations, and how they deal with the tensions between the common law’s quest for stability and capacity for change, and between tort law as private law (achieving justice in resolving disputes between individuals) and tort law as public law (formulating rules of law that will regulate activities of broad segments of society). The course will also examine the principle of relative institutional competence, which will allow a comparison between the strengths and weaknesses of courts and legislatures as institutions that fashion tort law. In addition, it will consider how statutes impact on the law of torts as both sources of duty and as standards of care.
This course is only open to foreign-trained LL.M. students.