Here are some recent stories about tort law that you may have missed:

  1. The New York Times reported on September 30, 2017 that contact sports cause 600,000 injuries a year.   Key quote: “And that takes into account only the immediate consequences of an injury; a paper by the researchers says, not the long-term consequences of concussions or repeated jarring of the brain in collisions.  Or the repercussions of ligament tears which can lead to a greater than 50 percent risk of arthritis a decade later.…”  “Contact Sports Cause 600,000 Injuries a Year, Research Says,” New York Times, September 30, 2017.

  2. Workplace Arbitration Case Divides Justices.  The New York Times reported on October 3, 2017 that the Supreme Court of the United States appeared divided over a case which would “give employers a powerful tool to bar class actions over workplace issues,” an issue which might affect some 25 million employment contracts.  The use of mandatory arbitration clauses, as well as clauses which ban class actions “make it hard to to pursue minor claims that affect many people, whether in class actions or mass arbitration,” and yet these clauses are now “commonplace in in contracts for things like cellphones, credit cards, rental cars and nursing home care.”  These clauses are an effort to divert people from exercising their rights to go to court to resolve their disputes, and may be applied in way that effectively deprives people of any meaningful access to justice.  “Workplace Arbitration Case Divides Justices,” The New York Times, October 3, 2017.

  3. 4,800 women across the United States have sued Johnson & Johnson over its baby powder, claiming that” talcum particles in the popular product caused their ovarian cancer,” the New York Times reported on September 29, 2017.  The science is “inconclusive,” as the Times reports, noting that the plaintiffs rely on studies from 1971 and after which show that talc in the baby powder can be absorbed by the reproductive system and cause inflammation in the ovaries.  However, the National Cancer institute website states that “the weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and and increased risk of ovarian cancer.”  Nonetheless, Johnson & Johnson had lost 6 0f the 7 cases tried as of the date of the Times article (at least one plaintiff’s verdict has been set aside since that date).  Here’s something to think about:  How much scientific data is necessary, before it is reasonable and prudent for Johnson & Johnson to put some cautionary warning on the baby powder, to alert consumers of the possible risk? “4,800 File Suits Claiming Cancer from Baby Powder,” New York Times, September 29, 2017.