Ralph Nader’s scheme for a Connecticut tort law museum

We have occasionally posted (here, here, and here) about the lawyer advocate’s longstanding plan for a museum in his home town of Winsted, Connecticut, dedicated to the praise and glorification of the American tort law system. The project has now dragged on fitfully through many years of economic stagnation, unexpectedly costly environmental remediation, changes of venue, and community suspicion (“a lot of empty promises”, one resident puts it), which may function as some kind of metaphor, no? [Torrington Register Citizen, Connecticut Law Tribune]


  • Other than appearing clueless during a SNL skit when he was given a blow-up party doll to hold, can you tell me anything he has done that can be counted as a positive contribution?

  • Let’s give credit where credit is due:
    Thank you for so many things, Ralph
    Ralph Nader’s Record of Accomplishments
    Instrumental in the passing of the following legislation:
    National Automobile and Highway Traffic Safety Act (1965)
    Clean Water Act (1968)
    Clean Air Act (1970)
    Co-Op Bank Bill (1978)
    Law establishing Environmental Protection Agency (1970)
    Consumer Product Safety Act
    Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
    Mine Health and Safety Act
    Whistleblower Protection Act
    Medical Devices safety
    Nuclear power safety
    Mobile home safety
    Consumer credit disclosure law
    Pension protection law
    Funeral home cost disclosure law
    Tire safety & grading disclosure law
    Wholesome Meat Act
    Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act
    Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act
    Wholesome Poultry Product Act
    Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1970
    Safe Water Drinking Act
    Freedom of Information Act
    National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act
    Founded or sponsored the following organizations:
    American Antitrust Institute
    Appleseed Foundation
    Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest
    Aviation Consumer Action Project
    Buyers Up
    Capitol Hill News Service Center for Concerned Engineering
    Center for Auto Safety
    Center for Insurance Research
    Center for Justice and Democracy
    Center for Science in the Public Interest
    Center for the study of Responsive Law – 1969
    Center for Women Policy Studies
    Citizen Action Group
    Citizen Advocacy Center
    Citizen Utility Boards
    Citizen Works
    Clean Water Action Project
    Clearinghouse for Professional Responsibility
    Congress Project
    Congress Watch
    Congressional Accountability Project
    Connecticut Citizen Action Group
    Consumer Project on Technology
    Corporate Accountability Research Group
    Critical Mass Energy Project
    Democracy Rising
    Disability Rights Center
    Equal Justice Foundation
    Essential Information
    FANS (Fight to Advance the Nation’s Sports)
    Fisherman’s Clear Water Action Group
    Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumer Rights
    Freedom of Information Clearinghouse
    Global Trade Watch
    Government Purchasing Project
    Health Research Group
    Litigation Group
    Multinational Monitor
    National Citizen’s Coalition for Nursing Home Reform
    National Coalition for Universities in the Public Interest
    National Insurance Consumer Organization
    Ohio Public Interest Action Group
    Organization for Competitive Markets
    Professional Drivers (PROD)
    Professionals for Auto Safety
    Public Citizen
    Pension Rights Center
    Princeton Project 55
    PROD – truck safety
    Public Citizen’s Visitor’s Center
    Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGS)
    Resource Consumption Alliance (conserve trees) 1004
    Retired Professionals Action Group
    Shafeek Nader Trust for the Community Interest
    Tax Reform Research Group
    Telecommunications Research and Action Center

  • …sad to say, since 1980, the republicans have done everything
    to reverse these gains… and the democrats went along with it…

  • Original post: That’s not a metaphor, it’s a direct example of attorneys in action. (If you don’t get it, read the chapter on Legalman’s Goal-Line Defense in Robert Ringer’s Winning Through Intimidation.)

    @Citizen Zen: Most of your list seem to me examples of unnecessary nanny-statism, not things to be proud of even were they constitutional.

  • nanny state? when every US car company was building cars that
    they KNEW were killing people unnecessarily? Nanny state?
    IMHO, one of the few legitimate functions of government is to
    protect the environment and the people from the effects of the
    greed of corporations…

    but 33 years after reagan, and the dems going along with it, who
    would know…?

  • The free market would have corrected for ::cough:: the pinto ::cough:: as soon as, if not quicker than, government regulation. However, the key to that working is an effective tort system. The current trend is to minimize tort liability while over-reaching on federal regulation; however allowing massive tort-suits would be much more effective in dissuading cost-benefit product marketing (ie. the pinto). Manufacturers faced with potentially crippling tort judgements for reckless behavior are much more quickly dissuaded than jumping through regulatory hoops (which the pinto did). In short, modern tort liability (depending on state) has the ability to be much more effective than any regulation.

  • As the search function of this site will quickly confirm, the received view of the Ford Pinto case as some sort of obvious vindication of American tort law is in fact much more controversial than one might assume. The classic refutation, by the prominent torts scholar Gary Schwartz, is here (“The Myth of the Ford Pinto Case”). On ZBerk’s wider argument, an actual free market would enforce contractual terms (including liability disclaimers) reached between auto sellers and consumers. In the absence of a willingness to enforce those, what we have is not a free market, but a prescriptive arrangement of imposed results premised on what I have called the invisible-fist theory, in which legal combat is assumed to result in outcomes optimal to society. That the actual workings of American tort liability do not always live up to the hopeful results of the invisible-fist theory is a topic I have tackled once or twice before in my writing.

    The actual Nader is more closely linked to the Chevy Corvair case than to that of the Ford Pinto, but there has been less controversial discussion of the Corvair case. I mention one of the reasons for that here.