Overgeneralizations About Courts:

As you can tell from some of my recent posts (e.g., this one and this one), I think that some courts have broadened tort liability far beyond where it should be. But remember that one reason why people comment about such cases is that they strike them as wrong. Generally speaking, I don’t say as much about cases that strike me as right (setting aside current cases that are already in the news). “Here’s a case from some years ago that reached entirely the right result” isn’t as fun for me to write, or as fun for people to read.

So please be careful about generalizing from some cases — even quite a few cases — that are in the news to the legal system as a whole; in particular, avoid generalizations such as this one, from a comment in this thread:

Tort law is no longer about duty, breach, causation, and damages. Rather, it is a mechanism for wealth transfer to an injured party.

Idiotic court decisions such as this one can be explained by the fact that there is a plaintiff with serious injuries (or as here, a death), and somebody nearby with a big pot of insurance money. Courts basically have gotten out of the gate-keeping business — as long as some jury feels like redistributing a little wealth, the courts will not stand in the way.

Read tort cases, and you’ll find lots of serious discussion of duty, breach, causation, and damages, and lots of cases thrown out of court before they go to trial on various grounds. There’s plenty of gate-keeping still going on in various areas.

Perhaps there’s less than there should be. Perhaps even a few bad apple tort decisions cause a lot of problems. But it’s best to avoid, I think, generalizations about all courts or even most courts based simply on some of the high-profile cases, which are often selected for publicizing precisely because they seem wrong or at least controversial.