Friday, April 5, 2013

Laposata, Barnes, and Glantz on Tobbaco Industry Influence on the Second Restatement of Torts

Maybe it's the Torts professor in me, but the following article -- spotlighted this week over at JOTWELL -- struck me as an item of interest for LHB readers: "Tobacco Industry Influence on the American Law Institute’s Restatements of Torts and Implications for Its Conflict of Interest Policies," by Elizabeth Laposata (UCSF), Richard Barnes (UC Hastings), and Stanton Glantz (UCSF). It was published in Volume 98 of the Iowa Law Review (2012). The authors are not legal historians (they are, respectively, a tobacco control policy researcher, an assistant professor of law, and a professor of medicine), but have used primary sources to uncover some fascinating information about the drafting of the influential Restatement (Second) of the Law of Torts (published in four volumes between 1965 and 1979). Here's part of the abstract:
The American Law Institute (“ALI”) is a prestigious and influential organization that creates treatises on the current state of the law, including “Restatements” of case law that guide judicial decisions and legislation. This paper uses previously secret tobacco industry documents made available as the result of state and federal litigation against the industry to describe how the tobacco companies, acting both indirectly through their trade organization, the Tobacco Institute, and directly, using influential lawyers, quietly influenced the ALI’s writing of the Restatements. The tobacco industry’s ease of access to the ALI calls into question the Institute’s independence, the preparation of major policy documents such as the Restatements, as well as the Institute’s ability to monitor and control conflicts of interest. . . .
The full article (which is mostly about what courts, legislatures, and the ALI should do, in light of this finding) is available here. The JOTWELL review that led me to the article is here.