Pop Torts Series Vol. 2: The Skylight Burglar
After looking over Professors Haltom and McCann's website I found great quick summaries about some of the "pop torts" that are so often used as an advocacy tool by the tort "reform" movement.
In short, pop torts are "oversimplified, moralistic characterizations of cases such as Stella Liebeck's suit against McDonald's" to push the tort "reform" agenda of limiting access to the courts.
I will write more about these "pop tort" cases in the future, but I just wanted to do a quick pop tort series with their material to give people a basic idea of this "pop torts" practice.
The tort "reform" movement typically tells these "pop tort" versions of real cases, but leaves out and distorts key aspects of the case to make them seem like crazy frivolous lawsuits when they are often very reasonable cases.
The Skylight Burglar The feature film "Liar Liar" (1997) recently spread this tale anew [See http://imdb.com/title/tt0119528/quotes]. According to the film a burglar fell through a skylight and injured himself only to recover thousands of dollars from the owner of the skylight. In actuality a recent graduate of a high school fell through a skylight on the roof of his alma mater. The skylight had been painted over, so he did not distinguish the sklylight from the roof. Because his school had contracted months before to board over the skylight, the school settled with the now-quadriplegic nineteen-year-old. [For far greater detail, please see Wendy Lilliedoll, An Unexpected Windfall for California’s Tort Reform Movement: Bodine v. Enterprise High School http://www.law.berkeley.edu/faculty/sugarmans/Wendy%20TortStoryFinal%20ii.doc.(link)
If you or your organization is interested in learning more about or working on these types of civil justice issues, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Fellow in Civil Justice
Drum Major Institute for Public Policy