Friday, April 3, 2009
The National Law Journal has published a short article on the tort of "public nuisance" interestingly called "The tort that refuses to die." Here is the first paragraph: "The tort of public nuisance has seen its fortunes rise and fall dramatically during the past several years. It was once hailed by the legal literati as the next big tort. More than one court described it as a monster threatening to devour tort law because of its propensity for reaching conduct that other tort theories could not. . . . Recent events confirm that analogy to a degree. Public nuisance resembles nothing so much as a zombie — a mindless creature perhaps not particularly dangerous at first glance but incredibly difficult to kill once and for all." The authors then discuss how the recent reversal of a case against former lead paint manufacturers alleging that lead paint was a public nuisance in Rhode Island, suggested public nuisance would not be an effective legal theory. But there have been many other cases that have challenged this conclusion. The article can be found here (although I am not sure if the link works if you don't have a subscription to the NLJ. If it doesn't, you may have to wait for the print version or search for it on Westlaw).