Advanced Torts: Punitive Damages (2 credits)

This seminar will have two parts. The first part of the semester, we will be exploring and interrogating various arguments about the nature of tort law and liability. In the second part of the semester, we will examine the relationship of tort law to criminal law, asking why some harms and/or wrongs are addressed through the civil system, while others are addressed in the criminal law system. In this second part, which will be the larger of the two, we will spend an extended period of time focusing on punitive damages, where we will bring to bear the theoretical tools encountered at the beginning of the class. We will study the competing origins, nature and policy rationales associated with punitive damages regimes, with an eye toward designing an optimal scheme for legislatures to adopt.

The readings will consist of some important cases, but mostly classic works in the field and leading articles in the contemporary debates. Students will be expected to engage in rigorous evaluations of scholarly arguments. Reading loads are substantial; moreover, active participation is required. Some combination of short response papers, web postings and a seminar paper will also be required. Prerequisite: Torts