Sessions Information

  • June 9, 2012
    9:00 am - 9:20 am
    Session Type: AALS Programs
    Session Capacity: N/A
    Hotel: N/A
    Room: N/A
    Floor: N/A

    Environmental disasters have transformed American tort law.  This talk will focus on a few episodes in which American state courts have been remarkably responsive to disasters in expanding the doctrines of strict liability and pure economic loss.  In 1889, the largest reservoir in the world, owned by Andrew Carnegie’s and Andrew Mellon’s recreational club, collapsed and wiped out the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The Johnstown Flood killed two thousand people, and state courts responded by adopting Rylands and strict liability for hazardous or “unnatural” activities.  In 1969, a massive oil spill in California led to an expansion of liability for pure economic losses for fishermen in Oppen v. Union Oil.   And now the BP spill in 2010 has again changed the pure economic loss rule, starting with an unrelated fertilizer case in Florida, Curd v. Mosaic Fertilizer, decided while the Deepwater Horizon leak was still gushing into the Gulf.  This talk will trace the effects of the BP spill on tort doctrine over the past two years.

Session Speakers
Harvard Law School

Session Fees

Fees information is not available at this time.