American Museum of Tort Law: An Important Showcase – (PART 2)

Landmark Tort Cases Highlighted in Little Connecticut
Special Entry for the Verdict, edition #154 – FALL 2017 – By Bentley Doyle

[Read Part One here]

Cases of enormous importance – giant landmark rulings – are highlighted in wee little Winsted – a tiny town in northern Connecticut, home to fewer than 10,000 residents, one of them being Mr. Nader (Ralph Nader) himself. He grew up there. His education and quest for fairness began naturally. His mother Rose was a well-known activist from Winsted. She made her views known through newspaper opinion pages and beyond. Her pioneering ways clearly made an impression on her son Ralph, and the fact this museum – evidently the only law museum operating in the US – was established in their town is a fitting feat indeed.

Advocates for the preservation of tort law will appreciate each exhibit and every bit of this American treasure. The museum, its staff and creators deserve praise for bringing it to life. Its conception was courageous. Its realization, an inspiration. It seems to have been built with equal parts of inspirational wisdom and aspirational desire. It is a museum of colour and strength that converges on the importance of accountability in law and in life, imbued with words and illustrations describing landmark rulings that were themselves the result of critically important legal efforts to make society a safer place – then, now and in the future.

The museum begins with key milestones of American history, outlining the fact that America adopted the English legal system, but that early US judges were uncomfortable over a system of liability without fault, which led the US to develop the idea of negligence in wrongdoings, i.e. torts. Obligations to pay or restore followed. Compensation for workers initially required them to prove that an injurious accident was the employer’s fault, but by 1911, as noted in the exhibits, some states began to pass compensation legislation that awarded limited monetary damages to injured workers regardless of fault. Obligations on businesses “and other defendants” – including state and local governments – expanded in the 1940s through 1960s, and strict liability followed in some cases, as did courts holding wrongdoers accountable for physical, economic and emotional harm. The roots of comparative and contributory fault/negligence took hold in the 1970s, but it was during the 1980s that businesses began to lobby against the tort system, and were successful in doing so. The museum’s resources point out that the business lobby overpowered its opponents in the political arena, which led to legislative restrictions that imposed arbitrary dollar limits on jury awards and unjustly restricted punitive damages. Social policies in the 1990s led governments to sue businesses (e.g. big tobacco companies were held accountable for the health costs created by their products).

The museum beautifully illustrates several ground-breaking legal precedents, such as the 1963 California strict liability case of Greenman v. Yuba Power Products, which established that a manufacturer of a flawed product is responsible for injuries caused by the product even if the manufacturer was not negligent in manufacturing it. Other cases highlighted (incidentally, I was told the illustrations were created by Matt Wuerker of Politico fame) include: the car accident case of Hoffman v. Jones (Florida 1973), the medical malpractice case of Canterbury v. Spence (Washington, DC 1972) and the car manufacturing case of MacPherson v. Buick (New York 1916). As the museum attests, the cases are the building blocks of righting wrongs in the United States, and the law evolves to meet the ever-changing needs of society.

Museum-goers get to watch a highly informative 11-minute film that clearly demonstrates the importance of tort law. From there, in the adjacent room ahead, several cases are described in key detail, each either famous, infamous or somewhere in between. Vitally important issues revolving around privacy rights, defamation and product liability (e.g. dangerous children’s toys) are skillfully referenced and displayed. The museum includes key praise for lawyer Edward M. Swartz (1934 – 2010) who wrote about hazards with toys and, as Nader says: “litigated and advocated for toy safety in the halls of Congress, before government agencies and through massive public education campaigns.”

The infamous McDonalds coffee case is deftly explained and explored, the injustice being what happened to the victim on many levels, all due to the wrongdoings of McDonalds and the arrogance and apathy the mega-corporation applied from the start. The light is shone on big tobacco, too. And a cherry red Chevrolet Corvair is the focal point of the last big display room, though the equally infamous Ford Pinto is also forced to a stop in the museum’s depictions.

Both my brother and I were impressed by everything the museum brought to light. The idea to make a stop there was mine, and I am grateful he played along, and I’m grateful to the people who put their hearts and souls into making the museum an important physical location for people to gain an education and appreciate the importance of civil law.

Justice has a place. 

ThisSaysItAllAMTL

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At #TLABC our mission is to support and promote the rights of individuals in British Columbia.

 

Here’s a quick round-up of what’s been in the news lately:

 Sept 8th

https://www.biv.com/article/2017/9/ndp-swerves-around-no-fault-fix-icbc-finances/

Aug 31st 

https://www.biv.com/article/2017/8/icbc-given-two-weeks-refine-premium-hike-proposals/

Aug 14th

http://vancouversun.com/news/politics/questions-and-answers-with-b-c-attorney-general-david-eby

Aug 13th

http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/icbc-in-crisis-once-lauded-auto-insurer-is-a-mess-on-path-to-insolvency#link_time=1502639172

Aug 9th

Opinion: What ails ICBC and how to fix it

Aug 4th

http://www.news1130.com/2017/08/04/bcs-attorney-general-vows-clean-mess-left-icbc/

Aug 3rd

http://www.icbc.com/about-icbc/newsroom/Pages/2017-Aug3.aspx

July 30th

https://www.straight.com/news/942631/gabriel-yiu-fixing-icbc

July 25th

https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/insurance/insurance-corporation-b-c-financial-condition-seriously-compromised-basic-autoplan-needs-redesign-ey-1004117888/

July 24th

http://vancouversun.com/storyline/ndp-promise-to-fix-icbc-amid-spectre-of-rate-hikes

July 21st

http://www.theprovince.com/news/politics/icbc+rates+soar+unless+there+major+reforms/13832620/story.html

April 20th

http://theprovince.com/opinion/columnists/mike-smyth-in-response-to-ndps-deceit-liberal-minister-spouts-alternative-facts

March 31st

http://www.thelawyersweekly.ca/articles/3755

March 3rd

http://www.icbc.com/about-icbc/newsroom/Pages/2017-Mar3-01.aspx

March 2nd

http://www.news1130.com/2017/03/02/new-plan-aims-combat-distracted-driving-canada/

 March 1st

http://www.nsnews.com/opinion/columnists/baldrey-get-ready-for-massive-icbc-rate-hikes-1.10685159

Jan 27th

http://www.delta-optimist.com/opinion/icbc-s-claims-philosophy-is-in-need-of-a-complete-overhaul-1.9104127

 Jan 26th

http://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/vaughn-palmer-liberals-in-no-rush-dealing-with-icbc-matters

 2016

Dec 21st

http://theprovince.com/opinion/columnists/mike-smyth-liberals-seek-cover-as-icbc-premiums-go-up-up-and-away

Dec 2nd

http://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/pete-mcmartin-icbcs-death-by-a-thousand-fender-benders

 Dec 7th

http://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/pete-mcmartin-medical-reports-make-up-major-chunk-of-icbc-expenditure-insiders-reveal

Nov 29th

http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-unshackle-icbc-from-politics-1.3341544

Nov 24th

http://theprovince.com/opinion/columnists/mike-smyth-ignore-the-distractions-voters-can-handle-the-truth-on-icbc-rate-hikes

http://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/vaughn-palmer-heres-betting-victoria-finds-a-way-to-duck-icbc-questions-till-after-election?__lsa=ef48-c886

https://www.kamloopsthisweek.com/premier-defends-icbc-no-plans-privatize-bring-no-fault-insurance/

Nov 23rd

http://www.timescolonist.com/opinion/op-ed/comment-be-prepared-for-icbc-rate-increase-shock-1.3101218?platform=hootsuite

Nov 22nd

http://www.news1130.com/2016/11/22/icbc-predictions-future-basic-rates/

Sept 13th – Letter to the Editor

http://vancouversun.com/opinion/letters/sept-13-housing-attracting-talent-icbc-riley-park-sex-case-judge?729581952

 Sept 7th

https://omny.fm/shows/the-simi-sara-show/public-car-insurers-justify-jacking-up-rates-with?sc_ref=twitter

Aug 30th (2016)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/icbc-insurance-rates-distracted-driving-1.3740119

https://omny.fm/shows/steele-drex/icbc-rate-hikes-we-chat-with-a-claims-lawyer

Distracted Driving is the new Drunk Driving

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“When you are driving—it should not be a secondary task, it should be the only task.”

 – Joel Feldman, creator of End Distracted Driving www.enddd.org

This is not an exaggeration.  Distracted driving has overtaken driving under the influence by a shocking margin.  In fact, incidents involving distracted driving have surpassed driving under the influence at least six fold.  International research shows that 20-30 per cent of all collisions involve driver distraction.

“The moment you take your eyes off the road and your hand off the wheel you don’t have your full attention on the road, which can pose a danger to you and those around you,”  – Kristine Simpson, manager of public affairs at the Canadian Automobile Association.

This is not only texting, but any activity that reduces your ability to focus 100% on the task of driving – in fact, we need to be reminded that even changing the radio station, adjusting your GPS, eating or even putting on makeup are distracting and can be fatal.

TLABC is proud to partner with the End Distracted Driving a program developed by Joel Feldman, a litigator from the US, who lost his beautiful daughter in a distracted driving incident.  Following this horrible loss, Joel created End Distracted Driving – a program designed to be presented in schools, by lawyers, in order to begin to create an effective dialogue about one of the most pervasive driving issues of the past decade.

TLABC is dedicated to creating awareness and bringing attention to distracted driving and TLABC members have been participating in presentations around the province that are geared toward preventing these senseless tragedies.

For more information, or to get involved, please contact the TLABC office at:
604-682-5343, or visit our website www.tlabc.org

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Perspective: TLABC New Lawyers Retreat

We think it’s important to get some perspective, from time-to-time, on our events and programs from the people they are designed to benefit the most… our members!

Recently, we held our inaugural New Lawyers Retreat in Squamish, BC and from all accounts, it was a huge success!  Set up as a mentorship weekend, TLABC hosted a group of new lawyers and seasoned veterans for an outdoor adventure retreat.

One of the new lawyer committee representatives, Alexia Majidi, shares her account of this awesome event.

“The first ever New Lawyers Retreat this year was nothing short of a true success!

From the mentors, the speakers, and the general collegial atmosphere, everything was just great. Friday night was an opportunity for everyone to meet and to socialize in a more comfortable setting than what we are all used to back in the office. It was a chance for everyone to loosen up and get to know one another before getting down to business on Saturday morning.

Saturday, we all slowly made our way to the conference hall and sat back and listened to some of the greatest in our profession. Barb Cornish and Mary-Ellen Boyd gave us vital insight into a successful mediation, while The Honourable Madam Justice Lisa Warren gave us her “Top DOs and DON’Ts in the Courtroom.” As a new call, there is nothing more valuable than getting these sorts of tips straight from the top!

Later we broke into smaller groups and had a chance to ask general questions, like work-life balance and the key to a successful practice, from amazing mentors. Once the educational part of the retreat was over we all headed off on our Squamish adventures. Once back from the adventures, we got together for a BBQ and beverages before we headed off into town, finding ourselves belting karaoke tunes with (TLABC President,) Aseem, at The Chief!

I am already looking forward to planning and attending next years’ retreat! It was the perfect way to learn, meet great mentors, and to enjoy ourselves with some of the most humble and brilliant minds that make up the BC Bar today.” 

 Alexia Majidi
TLABC Member/Lawyer – Jiwa Law Corporation

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Hit the Ground Running

 

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Well, we’re back.

It’s fall, it’s busy, and we are ready to hit the ground running!

“There’s a feeling in the air when summer fades and fall begins… that back-to-school ‘something’ that is crisp and busy and smells like falling leaves and hot apple pie.  Warm afternoons turn into cool, dark evenings and calendars fill up again with meetings, fundraising and campaign strategy…”  [from the upcoming issue of the Verdict – Fall 2016 – Ejack]

Our committees are kicking off new initiatives and projects, our Executive and Board of Governors will meet next week to begin implementing the strategy that arose from our annual Governance Retreat, and the smell of fresh coffee brewing for those early morning meetings permeates TLABC headquarters.

We’ve been examining our goals and planning for the year ahead, but the work has been strategic and internal and now it’s time for action.

In short, Fall hits – and it’s go-time.

Not that summer has been all that quiet around here- we’ve had multiple retreats and conferences going on for the TLABC Staff, the Board & Executive, and some of our campaign committees, (albeit with a few vacation days tacked on.)  We’ve had staff in Los Angeles and Seattle, Washington, Squamish, the Yukon and Osoyoos, and we’ve even be honoured with a couple of awards!

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The National Association of Trial Lawyer Executives (NATLE) has awarded TLABC it’s innaugural Award of Excellence for Publication of the Year for the Verdict, TLABC’s widely recognized magazine. 

NATLE is an organization whose members are chief executives and staff of justice associations throughout North America. Its 67 member associations collectively represent over 60,000 attorneys. 

the Verdict Board:

  • Editorial Board: Candace Cho, Aseem Dosanjh, Ed Good, Bill MacLeod, Dana Quantz, Harmonie Roesch-West, Michael Sporer
  • Publisher: Julia Chalifoux
  • Managing Editor: Carla Terzariol
  • Editor Emeritus: Ken Price
  • Staff Writer: Ben Doyle

As well, the International Association for Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA) has awarded TLABC one of only 21 annual awards granted to competitors representing more than 300 organizations.

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An Award for OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT was given to TLABC for our Medical Legal Conference XIII: Hawaii 2015 – Health and Legal Professionals Working Together as Allies in the Best Program category. 

ACLEA members are professionals in the fields of continuing legal education and legal publishing. Its annual ACLEA’s Best Awards are highly competitive and winning projects represent the highest level of achievement for the staff and volunteers involved.

Project Faculty and Staff: 
•    Mock Trial / Focus Group: Robyn Wishart, The Hon. Mr. Justice Nathan Smith, Marc Kazimirski, Joseph Cahan, Dr. Gwyllyn Goddard, and Christy Pratt.
•    Conference Planning Committee: Derek Miura, Robyn Wishart, Dr. Nairn Stewart, Dr. Mark Frobb, Dr. Douglas Lee & Dr. James Kennedy
•    TLABC Staff: Erin Monahan (Education Director) and Carla Terzariol (Executive Director)

While we’re tooting our horns, we were also named as one of the top 10 legal Twitter accounts last year by Lawsome  – see the original post here.  

Follow us on Twitter @tla_bc

It’s been a busy summer and it’s definitely going to be a busy year, so gear up with us, and let’s make 2016/2017 the most successful year yet!

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Help the BC Courthouse Library!

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CLBC is taking a deep look at how they serve value to their membership and lawyers across the province. This is your chance to have a say! This exercise involves several interviews. To get good representation (year of call, region, etc.), they will be doing a quick (4-5 minutes) intake survey and then short-listing folks for a longer 1-hour Skype, phone or in-person interview. Thank you for your interest!

Please email Audrey Jun at ajun@courthouselibrary.ca  before August 9th, 2016 (next Tuesday!)

Commitment to Justice

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Summer may be just around the corner, but our fiscal year is getting ready to wrap up!

Next week, the Staff, Board of Governors and Executive Committee will be heading to Osoyoos for our Strategic Planning Retreat to discuss the past, present and future of TLABC, and we are excited to keep moving forward.

We are so proud of the strength of our membership – as well as the successful work of our PAC – The Public Affairs Committee.  PAC is what fuels our advocacy work and allows us to stand up to threats to our justice system.

We couldn’t do the work we do without the generous support of our PAC donors – and today, we’d like to specifically acknowledge our high-level firm donors, who show an incredible “Commitment to Justice!”  Thank you.

Champions of Justice:

Diamond:

Platinum:

Would you like to learn more about PAC? Contact megan@tlabc.org or call the TLABC office (604-682-5343) and find out how you can make a “Commitment to Justice!”

Twitter Town Hall with Chief Judge Crabtree

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Tomorrow, the BC Provincial Court is holding an event that is the first of its kind in Canada!

From 1-3pm, Chief Judge Crabtree will be online – tweeting live and answering questions about our provincial justice system, in the first-ever “Twitter Town Hall.”

Hoping to get a valuable discussion started, associations like the CBA (Canadian Bar Association,) the Law Society and ourselves, along with many other colleagues and the community, will be submitting topics and questions to address.  While I’m not sure 2 hours will be enough time to cover every single issue, it is certainly a formidable start!  We need to be talking about our justice system, and our citizens need to know that this dialogue is happening.  In my view, this is not just a new-age initiative to prove that Judge Crabtree can roll with the social media crowd, but a glimpse into what the future may hold.

Online engagement is no longer an option, nor is transparency within our systems – and this unique initiative is a perfect opportunity to see how we can effectively progress with both.

Tune in tomorrow to see how it goes – you can follow the hashtag #AskChiefJudge and check in with us (@tla_bc) and the BC Provincial Court (@BCProvCourt) as it develops!

(If you’d like to submit your own question, just tag @BCProvCourt & feel free to send it in advance to provide ample time for a response tomorrow.)

Remember, that you don’t have to be on twitter to follow along – simply click on the links to view the event tomorrow.  If you are on twitter, however, remember to tweet  @BCProvCourt & tag #TLABC and tell us where you are – a courthouse, office etc. 

We’ll “see” you tomorrow – Online!

Hot Off The Press! #TLABC

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The spring edition of the Verdict is out… have you seen it? Print and digital editions are now available. Here is a look at what is inside:www.theverdictmagazine.com

Hot Off The Press!

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Have you received your copy winter edition of the Verdict? Print and digital editions are now available. Here is a look at what is inside:

Actions, activities and tasks that occur prior to a trial are vastly different in criminal law and civil law, but one thing is common for the lawyers involved in any legal matter: You must be prepared; your client is counting on you. Proper management of a case typically involves a range of things. If you represent a person accused of a crime, your involvement will get increasingly heavy from the time of arraignment through to an interim or preliminary hearing. If you represent an injured plaintiff in a civil lawsuit, it’s highly likely you will need to be prepared for a full trial whether one happens or not, and you certainly will be front and centre in any pre-trial conferences or settlement discussions, as well as discoveries. The fall 2015 edition of the Verdict explores the pre-trial needs and responsibilities of today’s lawyers and litigators, the duties required when representing laypersons in BC….

Read your copy online today at www.theverdictmagazine.com