Why We Need Tort Reform
written October 24, 2008
Falzone v. Busch is a case about a woman who almost got hit by a negligently driven car. She got scared by her near death experience and consequently tried to sue for damages based on the “physical illness” that resulted from negligently induced
fright. The trial court granted summary judgment not in her favor, as they should have. In other words she lost at the trial court level. BUT, the decision was reversed on appeal, meaning she won. This is the rationale of the court:
We are not dealing with property law, contract law or other fields where stability and predictability may be crucial. We are dealing with torts where there can be little, if any, justifiable reliance and where the rule of stare decisis is admittedly limited.
Falzone v. Busch, Supreme Court of NJ, 1965. 45 NJ 559, 214 A.2d 12.
If that didn't make you shake your head in disgust, you need to read that quote again.
This is tort law. We’re just making shit up as we go along.
It’s not so bad that he admits that they selectively ignore precedent, because that may be necessary given an array of unique factors in any area of law. What’s amazing is that his reasoning is essentially this:
It’s tort law; we’re a special breed that nobody takes seriously. There is no need for predictability and stability. Stare decisis is out the window. Reliance on precedent is not justifiable. So fuck it, let’s have some fun with it! Damages for emotional distress based on the proximate cause of physical harm? FUCK NO! Let’s set new precedent: If you breathe in the wrong direction and Suzie doesn’t like it, SHE CAN SUE YOU! And this, my friends, is one of the many reasons I quit law school. If you want to make a difference in the world, arguing in front of an asshole like that is not the most conducive avenue.
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