The Synergy of Toxic Tort Law and Public Health: Lessons from a Century of Cigarettes
Jean M. Eggen
Widener University – Delaware Campus
Connecticut Law Review, Forthcoming
Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-79
Toxic torts is a relatively new area of the law, but its seeds were sown a century ago with developments in modern culture. The design, manufacture, and marketing of the cigarette constituted one such development, one with far-reaching legal consequences which continue to challenge the legal system today. This article is built around Allan M. Brandt’s 2007 public health history of cigarettes, THE CIGARETTE CENTURY. It uses Brandt’s book as a stepping stone to a broader discussion of current critical issues in toxic tort law. The article begins with a review of the book, then moves into a discussion of the ways in which the watershed events in law and science that surrounded the cigarette in the twentieth century have shaped the major legal issues in toxic tort law today. In conducting this analysis, I focus on the three major areas of scientific causation, preemption, and mass toxic tort litigation. I demonstrate that the public health history of cigarettes offers many lessons for judges, attorneys, and legal scholars in addressing the most troubling issues that arise in toxic tort litigation.
Available at SSRN.