Ralph Nader To Open Country’s First Torts Museum

220px-Ralph_Nader,_September_15,_2007admission-ticketMy fellow torts professor Roger Schechter sent me the good news of a museum that will finally cater to the common law set. Ralph Nader is reportedly establishing the nation’s first Tort law museum in his home town of Winsted, Connecticut. The article below includes quotes from local businessman who say that they would prefer a children’s museum but who needs a slip-and-slide when you can have an entire building dedicated to slip and falls? I am already planning my family trips.

As one would expect, the exhibits would include displays on significant cases, including the Chevrolet Corvair, the car featured in Nader’s 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed. I would hope to see a replica of the scales that crushed Mrs. Helen Palsgraf and the explosive squib from Scott v. Shepherd, 96 Eng. Rep. 525 (K.B. 1773).

I have long enjoyed an association and friendship with Nader, who I greatly respect for his crusading work on torts and the public interest. As for the torts museum, I cannot wait to go on the ultimate field trip with my torts colleagues. Once you get through the waivers and reading the signs on the express assumption of the risk, it will be a common law paradise for the risk adverse.

Source: Register Citizen

19 thoughts on “Ralph Nader To Open Country’s First Torts Museum”

  1. I love old Ralph, but this just sounds like something from a bad “Simpson’s” episode.

  2. The Federal Tax Museum charges triple if you die while inside, and double if self-employed.

  3. Nick,

    They tore down a few years ago GMs…… But…. They had the philophsy…. Build it… They will come….

  4. Blouise, Thanks. That was a side of Winona LaDuke I had never seen. Colbert has that ability to bring out silliness. My daughter went to Winona State U., which is of course where Winona Rider was born and raised. I love trivia. Used to kick ass in Trivial Pursuit.

  5. Ralph, is an honorable man….. I think the museum is a little odd…. But hey… He took on GM and won….. You gotta give the man credit for not selling out at any price…. He would, in my opinion been a good president….. But as nick pointed out…. Those vested with power don’t want to cede anything…..

  6. Gene H:

    I waiting for the Federal Tax museum. You get free admission but you pay through the nose to get out.

  7. Mike:

    I might add to your description of railroad grade crossing collisions.

    The railroads put an extremely high priority on grade crossing safety. It starts with the simple, if their dispatch center receives a report of a gate or other equipment has been damaged they send out a crew to repair right then 24/7. Also interesting are the small huts that can be seen next to the crossing. These contain the system to operate the gate. Some might believe when a train approaches, it simply just closes a switch to activate the gate until the train leaves. It is much more than that. Each crossing has a triple-redundant system that uses computers to calculate the speed of the train and other metrics to provide at least 20 seconds warning before the train arrives. It also records everything it does electronicaly. The relays they use are huge and engineered not to fail or wear out. One electrician I worked with on a crossing accident I investigated told me the relays are designed to last 20 years before they are replaced. It also has a large battery backup if the power goes out.

    The locomotives also have recording devices like black boxes and they use a form of dash cam with audio and video recording whenever they are in operation. A railroad police officer told me that after these cameras were installed the road saved millions of dollars annually in negligence claims from people who were involved in collisions.

  8. Best of luck with your new and educational endeavor, Ralph Nader.

    And I don’t know about the commercially viable aspect, Mark. You can sexy up and sensationalize the history of torts for marketing purposes far better than some areas of the law. A museum on say the Conflict of Laws or Civil Procedure would be a much harder sell.

  9. I think this would be more enjoyable as a wax museum featuring lifelike recreations of the incident.

  10. I hope they do not leave out the story of Professor Prosser, who was somewhat mystified about how American jurisprudence, in the field of tort law, could allow the sovereign immunity defense to creep in.

  11. It is great to see that the torts branch of the common law will receive some attention outside of legal academia. The advances and declines in the recognition of rights and duties through the common law of torts is persaps the most important of our legal to and fro. While criminal law gets the greatest media attention and the greatest following in the public, tort law has more impact on the day-to-day lives of Americans. Q: What brought us railroad crossing signs, lights and and bells, whistles of approaching trains, crossing gates? A: Tort law and plaintiff verdicts. Insurers began to demand it. The railways’ bottom line began to demand it. And over time from the 1940s until now crossing collisions fatal and otherwise have virtually disappeared. Think of it as the market at work. The same in other areas from automobile safety to the disposal of hazardous wastes. Thanks to lawyers on both sides of the docket, to jurors and to judges. The plaintiffs bar in a most peculiar way is the only true remnant of free market entrepreneurship — they can only eat what they kill and there is no government subsidy or tax break underpinning their firms! I have been on both sides of the bar and served two decades as a trial judge. My hat is off to the common law and its preservation.

  12. Blouise, As did I. Winsted has another hero of our generation, David Halberstam. He and Nader were boyhood buddies, playing pickup baseball games in town. Their mothers were friends.

  13. The impact of tort law on product safety cannot be exaggerated. Unfortunately Corporations have been very successful in demonizing plaintiffs and their lawyers. As a result, product safety and consumer protection has taken a serious hit while corporate profits have soared. Anyone who thinks it is easy to win a tort case against a corporation should try to run a law or active representing really humans; they would soon realize that the deck is stacked solidly in favor of corporations in ALL areas of the law.

  14. I have friends who just spent a couple weeks at Gettysburg honoring the 150th anniversary of that tragic Civil War Battle; friends who travel all over the country to experience little, out of the way, gourmet restaurants; friends who spend their vacations visiting President’s birthplaces; and now, I’m sure, friends who will make a once in a lifetime pilgrimage to the “Torts” Museum.

    The next time you talk with or see Mr. Nader would you please give him my heartfelt greetings. He is my hero. I voted for him.

  15. Unfortunately, Al Gore supporters have tagged this hero a traitor for having the temerity to run for public office as a non duopoly candidate. Ralph Nader has done much for this country. I disagree w/ him on some issues, but he has integrity in a DC culture that has none.

    Winsted, Ct. is a blue collar town. Northwest Community College is where some of my neighborhood buddies went to school. So, I had occasion to spend some time up there. The Nader’s owned a local restaurant and were good, hardworking people who served good food. Nader has always been proud of his roots and I wish him well in this endeavor. It’s in a pretty part of the state and just a short drive to the Berkshires.

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