Widener Law presents first national conference on Crimtorts
Public Relations - Published: February 29, 2008

crimtort1 From left, Widener Law Associate Professor Christopher J. Robinette; Kenneth W. Simons, Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law; Michael L. Rustad, the Thomas F. Lambert Jr. Professor of Law and Co-Director of Intellectual Property Concentration at Suffolk University School of Law in Boston; and Thomas Koenig, Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at Northeastern University.

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From left, Martha Chamallas, the Robert J. Lynn Chair in Law at The Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law; Byron G. Stier, Associate Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School; Jeffery O’Connell, the Samuel H. McCoy II Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law; Widener Law Associate Professor Michael R. Dimino Sr.; and Frank J. Vandall, Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law.

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During the luncheon, symposium speaker Anthony J. Sebok, Professor of Law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, third from left, spoke with students and other event attendees.

About 75 people gathered on Widener’s Harrisburg campus Monday, Feb. 25 for the first national conference on “Crimtorts,” the expanding middle ground between criminal and tort law.

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A host of distinguished academics and legal experts explored the novel concept, including Professors Thomas H. Koenig and Michael L. Rustad, the men who coined the Crimtorts term. Crimtorts represents the blurring line between tort law and the criminal law principles of punishment and deterrence.

“There has been a defacto crimtort regime enacted in the states,” said Rustad, the Thomas F. Lambert Jr. Professor of Law and Co-Director of Intellectual Property Concentration at Suffolk University School of Law in Boston.

Associate Professor Christopher J. Robinette, who organized the symposium, said, “It has been exciting to bring this extraordinary talent together, and the law journal and Sandy Graeff have done a superb job in planning and executing the event.”

Jeffery O’Connell, the Samuel H. McCoy II Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, proposed marrying criminal and tort law in the medical malpractice arena. When a personal injury claim is made, he said, health care providers could be given 180 days to offer to pay the patients’ net economic losses. If the offer is declined, the claimant would have to prove gross negligence, with a standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This gives the claimant strong incentive to accept the settlement.

“It’s a crimtort solution,” O’Connell said, noting the idea keeps tort law, without all of its “endless frustrations.”