Attacks on tort responsibility may have less political traction in light of BP oil spill

In a column in the San Antonio Express-News (7/9), Scott Stroud writes,

All of a sudden, with oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig threatening to ruin the entire Gulf of Mexico, limits on legal liability don’t look so good.

Charles M. Silver, the McDonald Chair in Civil Procedure at the University of Texas at Austin, says that the comments some politicians have made after the spill ooze irony – and make a pretty strong case against tort reform. Said Silver,

Maybe when we understand that tort reform is all about not being responsible for our mistakes, we’ll understand that tort reform isn’t good for our society. . . . Looking at tort reform in light of the BP leak holds a certain fascination. It at least makes you wonder which politician will be the first to stand up against personal responsibility.

The clever phrase "tort reform" was ingeniously packaged to fool people into supporting proposals to deprive them of their rights.  Most people don’t know what a "tort" is and "reform" sounds good. But when folks understand that it’s a political deal to relieve wrongdoers of personal and corporate responsibility when they hurt other people, it doesn’t seem like such a good idea.


Ken Shigley  is author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice and president-elect of the State Bar of Georgia.   A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he has been listed as a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine), among the "Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine), and in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers (Martindale). He practices law at the Atlanta law firm of Chambers, Aholt & Rickard, and has broad experience in catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, products liabilityspinal cord injury, brain injury and burn injury cases.

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