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January 1991 Archives

Better Living Through Litigation?

In a 1976 book edited by Ralph Nader, two class-action enthusiasts sketched out a visionary scheme to sue American business over just about every ill known to mankind. Their plan, though almost delirious in its ambition, perfectly captured the pro-litigation mood that had begun to spread far and wide in the American legal establishment -- and foreshadowed many of the mass tort developments since then.

The Myth of the Ford Pinto Case

The case of the Ford Pinto, and its alleged tendency to explode in rear-end collisions, provided the occasion for what is universally hailed as our product liability system's finest triumph. Everyone knows that Ford engineers realized the car was defective but decided (in a smoking-gun memo unearthed by trial lawyers) that it would be cheaper to pay off death claims than to change the design. There�s just one problem: what "everyone knows" turns out to be false.
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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.