Torts Research

Prepared by Mary Whisner for Law A504 Torts (Prof. Dongsheng Zang), Oct. 7, 2009.

Most of the work in a first-year Torts class is reading cases in the casebook, wrestling with the concepts, and discussing them in class. This guide presents some resources for learning more about Torts in practice and in scholarship.

Torts Stats

In 2008, about 7% of civil cases filed in Washington superior courts (9,872 out of 135,553) were classified as Tort. Superior Court 2008 Annual Caseload Report at 21. That number might be misleading: many cases that are not primarily torts could include tort claims -- for example an employment discrimination case that includes a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.



Thousands of Washington attorneys practice in some area of torts. A search of the Washington listings in Martindale-Hubbell on LexisNexis turned up 2,418 attorneys who list as an area of practice torts, personal injury, malpractice, liability, negligence, or wrongful death).


Blackletter Law

What are the elements of negligence, assault, false imprisonment? What defenses are available? What's the difference between contributory negligence and comparative fault?

Legal Encyclopedias and Treatises



American Jurisprudence 2d, KF154 .A42 at Reference Area (Westlaw AMJUR, LexisNexis Legal > Secondary Legal > Jurisprudences, ALR & Encyclopedias > American Jurisprudence 2d)

Corpus Juris Secundum, KF154 .C562 at Reference Area (Westlaw CJS)


LexisNexis and Westlaw

Restatement of Torts 2d (1965), KF395 .T67 1965 at Reference Area

Restatement of Torts 3d

  • Apportionment of Liability, KF395.T68 A7 2000 at Reference Area
  • Products Liability, KF395.T68 P7 1998 at Reference Area
  • Liability for Physical Harm (Proposed Final Draft), KF395.T68 .L53 2005 at Reference Area
  • General Principles (Discussion Draft), KF395.T68 G46 1999 at Reference Area
Treatises and Hornbooks

The American Law of Torts (multi-volume set), KF1250 .S568 1983 at Reference Area

Harper, James, & Gray on Torts (multi-volume set), KF1250 .H37 2006 at Reference Area

Modern Tort Law: Liability and Litigation (Westlaw MTLLL)

Principles of Tort Law, by Marshall S. Shapo (short Hornbook), KF1250.Z9 S53 2003 at Reference Area

The Law of Torts, by Dan B. Dobbs (long Hornbook), KF1250 .D56 2000 at Reference Area

... plus hundreds of treatises and handbooks on special topics -- premises liability, medical malpractice, head injuries, construction defects, etc.



David K. DeWolf and Keller W. Allen, Tort Law and Practice, Washington Practice volumes 16-16A, KFW80 .W3 at Reference Area (Westlaw WAPRAC).


Formbooks and Practice Materials

How do practitioners get started putting together their cases?

American Jurisprudence Proof of Facts (and POF2d and POF3d), KF8933 .A42 at Reference Area (Westlaw AMJUR-POF)

Causes of Action, KF8863 .S53 at Reference Area (Westlaw COA)

Both of these contain articles with detailed discussions of cases based on particular fact situations. For example:

  • Liability for Staph and Other Hospital-Acquired Infections, 106 Am. Jur. Proof of Facts 3d 1, has background information about staph and other infections, a checklist for the elements of proof, tips on discovery, sample testimony by the plaintiff, by plaintiff's physician, and by experts, and more.
  • Landlord's Liability for Injury Caused By Accumulation of Snow and Ice on Common Areas of Leased Premises, 88 Am. Jur. Proof of Facts 3d 307, has similarly detailed coverage for different negligence claim (with a lot less special medical vocabulary).

Forms collections on LexisNexis (e.g., Legal > Secondary Legal > Forms & Agreements > By Area of Law > Personal Injury)

Washington Elements of an Action, Washington Practice volume 29, KFW80 .W3 v.29 current at Reference Area

Jury Instructions

How do the rules you learn from appellate cases get applied by juries?

Washington Pattern Jury Instructions, Civil, Washington Practice volumes 6-6B, KFW80 .W3 at Reference Area  (Westlaw WA-WPI; also part of WAPRAC). Available free through the Washington Courts site.


Jury Verdicts

How do you gauge how much a broken leg is "worth"? When should you settle and when should you insist on going to trial?

What's It Worth?, KF1257 .H3 current at Reference Area, older at Classified Stacks

Northwest Personal Injury Litigation Reports, KFW51 .J8 current 6 years at Reference Area

Various databases on LexisNexis and Westlaw


Researching Outside Law

How do you learn about medical procedures, drug side effects, construction standards, engineering studies?

See University Libraries Subject Guides.


Newsletters and Blogs

Practitioners and others following particular areas use a variety of newsletters, often very narrowly focused, e.g.,

  • Andrews Medical Devices Litigation Reporter (Westlaw ANMDLR)
  • Andrews Tire Defect Litigation Reporter (ANTDLR)
  • Diet Drugs Report: Mealey's Litigation Report (LexisNexis)
  • Surgery Litigation & Law Weekly (LexisNexis)



Empirical Legal Studies

Many scholars are using social science tools to look at law and legal systems, including issues relating to tort law.

For example:

If this area of scholarship intrigues you, one good way to sample it is to follow the Empirical Legal Studies blog.


Torts Stories

You can gain perspectives on tort law from books that are works of journalism, history, or theory. Here is a selection:

Robert L. Rabin & Stephen D. Sugarman eds., Torts Stories, KF1249 .R33 2003 at Reference Area and Good Reads. Publisher's description.


Kenneth S. Abraham, The Liability Century: Insurance and Tort Law from the Progressive Era to 9/11, KF1250 .A714 2008 at Classified Stacks. Publisher's description.


Marcia Angell, Science on Trial: The Clash of Medical Evidence and the Law in the Breast Implant Case, KF1297.B74 A96 1996 at Classified Stacks. Publisher's description.


Carl T. Bogus, Why Lawsuits Are Good for America: Disciplined Democracy, Big Business, and the Common Law, KF1296 .B64 2001 at Classified Stacks. Publisher's description.

Henry S. Cohn & David Bollier, The Great Hartford Circus Fire: Creative Settlement of Mass Disasters, KF228 .R495 1991. Publisher's description.


Carl F. Cranor, Toxic Torts: Science, Law and the Possibility of Justice, KF1299.H39 C73 2006 at Classified Stacks. Publisher's description.


William L. Dwyer, The Goldmark Case: An American Libel Trial, KF228.G65 D85 1984 at Good Reads and Classified Stacks. Legislator from Eastern Washington is accused of communist sympathies and sues. His lawyer, William L. Dwyer, later became a federal judge. Publisher's description


Kathy Roberts Forde, Literary Journalism on Trial: Masson v. New Yorker and the First Amendment, KF228.M3747 F67 2008 at Classified Stacks. Libel case. Publisher's description.


William Halton & Michael McCann, Distorting the Law: Politics, Media, and the Litigation Crisis, KF380 .H358 2004 at Good Reads. Publisher's description. Michael McCann is on the faculty of the UW's Political Science department and has an adjunct appointment in Law.

Jonathan Harr, A Civil Action, KF228.A7 H37 1996 at Classified Stacks. Publisher's description.



Thomas Koenig & Michael Rustad, In Defense of Tort Law, KF1250 .K57 2001 at Classified Stacks. Publisher's description.


  David Lebedoff, Cleaning Up: The Story Behind the Biggest Legal Bonanza of Our Time, KF228.E98 L43 1997, Classified Stacks. Fishermen's suit over Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Joel Levin, Tort Wars, K923 .L48 2008 at Classified Stacks. Publisher's description.

Timothy D. Lytton, ed. Suing the Gun Industry: A Battle at the Crossroads of Gun Control and Mass Torts, KF3941 .S85 2005 at Reference Area. Publisher's description.


  William H. Manz, The Palsgraf Case: Courts, Law, and Society in 1920s New York, KF228.P346 M36 2005 at Classified Stacks. Publisher's description.


  William Mishler, A Measure of Endurance: The Unlikely Triumph of Steven Sharp, HV1555.O7 M57 2003 at Classified Stacks. Suit against manufacturer of a hay baler. Publisher's description.


Richard A. Nagareda, Mass Torts in a World of Settlement, KF1250 .N34 2007 at Classified Stacks. Publisher's description.



G. Edward White, Tort Law in America: An Intellectual History, KF1249 .W48 2003 at Classified Stacks. Publisher's description.



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