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John Goldberg

  • Outrage Defense Stretches Texas Abortion Law Into New Territory

    November 10, 2021

    Even the staunchest conservative on the Supreme Court was taken aback when the Texas solicitor general said outraged feelings would be suitable grounds to sue doctors and others who violate the state’s ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. ... Lawsuits brought under Texas’s abortion law, really have nothing to do with tort law, said John Goldberg, a Harvard law professor and expert in tort law and theory. “Getting an abortion that’s legal under Roe v. Wade is not, in the eyes of the law, mistreating a third person who is upset by the fact that you’re getting an abortion,” he said. So why did the Texas solicitor general make the comparison? Goldberg said Stone was trying to use tort of outrage as an analogy to convince the Supreme Court that it can’t block these lawsuits because they are being brought by private individuals, who are suing on their own behalf, not by people who are acting in concert with the state. Stone didn’t respond to requests for comment.

  • Abortion Access Hurts Pro-Lifers’ Feelings, Texas Attorney Argues to Supreme Court

    November 8, 2021

    ... Over three hours, lawyers representing abortion providers, the state of Texas, and the federal government volleyed with the nine justices over Texas’ Senate Bill 8, a law that effectively bans abortion after six weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant, with no exception for rape or incest. ...The “tort of outrage” is a real legal concept. In most states it’s known as “the intentional infliction of extreme emotional distress.” But legal experts familiar with the statute are skeptical of Stone’s argument. To satisfy the law, John Goldberg, a Harvard Law School professor and expert in tort law and theory, says that the behavior in question has to be not only both “extreme and outrageous,” but specifically “intended to cause severe emotional distress.” And, Goldberg adds, ”the intended victim” — the person suing under Texas’ law, in this scenario — “actually has to experience the severe distress.” There are two big problems with Stone’s logic, Goldberg explains. First, the Texas law is very clear that it doesn’t require an injury — anyone can sue under S.B. 8. But, he adds, if someone did sue for “outrage,” they would still have to prove that the person seeking the abortion caused them emotional distress “intentionally and through extreme and outrageous conduct.”

  • “Defund the police” made headlines. What does it look like now?

    March 12, 2021

    "Defund the police" became a rallying cry during Black Lives Matter protestsacross the U.S. and around the world in the summer of 2020, following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police. But in the months since, how has the debate developed, and what does it mean for American communities? ... At its most basic, "defund the police" means reallocating money from policing to other agencies funded by local municipalities. Advocates are split on the question of how far it should go: whether to reduce funding and reform some aspects of policing, or completely abolish police forces as we know them...Many reform advocates argue police departments are overburdened, and that other agencies would be better equipped to deal with civil matters like mental health and homelessness. "I think at the core of the defunding movement is the idea that we want to take money out of city and local budgets that has traditionally been devoted to paying for police services, and to redirect it [to] better housing for low-income people, better schools, better mental health treatments," Harvard Law professor John Goldberg told CBSN Originals.

  • Dominion and Smartmatic have serious shot at victory in election disinformation suits, experts say

    February 25, 2021

    Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic USA have a good shot at winning their billion-dollar defamation suits against a host of conservative personalities and, in the case of Smartmatic, Fox News, but they still have a lot to prove in court, experts say. Each of the two election technology firms has sued several boosters of former President Donald Trump, saying that they worked to spread conspiracy theories about each company’s products in order to cast doubt on President Joe Biden’s electoral victory...The lawsuits against Giuliani and Powell are likely to be more straightforward than the case against Fox News and its hosts, according to Harvard Law School professor John Goldberg, an expert on defamation. “I think with respect to Giuliani and Powell, there is pretty good evidence that will allow a jury to find actual malice by those defendants,” Goldberg said. “For example, Dominion has pointed out in its complaint that Giuliani, in his public statements out of court, was routinely talking about fraud, but every time he was in court and was under oath, so to speak, he said, ‘No, we are not alleging fraud, Your Honor.’” “They have a shot against Fox News and the Fox personalities, but it’s a little harder,” Goldberg said.

  • Rudolph Giuliani pointing to a highlighting states that could help win the 2020 election

    Disinformation on trial

    February 17, 2021

    Tort law expert and Harvard Law Professor John C.P. Goldberg explains what election technology companies Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems must do to prove their claims of defamation against former former Trump allies, how likely they are to succeed, and whether these types of lawsuits might have an impact in the fight against disinformation.

  • No Special Duty

    October 5, 2020

    What are the police for? Producer B.A. Parker started wondering this back in June, as Black Lives Matter protests and calls to “defund the police” ramped up. The question led her to a wild story of a stabbing on a New York City subway train, and the realization that, according to the law, the police don’t always have to protect us. Producer Sarah Qari joins Parker to dig into the legal background, which takes her all the way up to the Supreme Court... and then all the way back down to on-duty officers themselves. Featuring Harvard Law professor John Goldberg.

  • How to reform police liability without involving McConnell or Trump

    August 17, 2020

    An article by I. Bennett Capers, John C.P. Goldberg and Benjamin C. Zipursky: Police officers enjoy almost complete immunity from civil suits in federal court. They can shoot someone, taser someone, choke someone, or press their knee into someone’s neck until they can’t breathe. They can brutalize peaceful protesters. And yet, in large part because of the court-made rule of qualified immunity, officers rarely face liability. The calls for ending qualified immunity have not gone unheard. The House of Representatives passed a bill that would eliminate it and enable victims to obtain remedies for violations of their civil rights. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Senate have balked at this change, as has President Trump. Likewise, the Supreme Court recently declined to revisit the subject. The good news is that changing federal law is not the only way to erase the grave accountability deficit for unlawful police violence. There’s an alternative hiding in plain sight: state law. While no state can change federal law, each state has the authority to change its own rules. State tort law has long empowered individuals who have been choked, shot or maimed to sue the person who victimized them. And, while the states have their own sorry track record when it comes to police accountability, it is the prerogative of state lawmakers — not the federal government — to change rules of state law that stand in the way of imposing legal responsibility for police violence. There are already some hints of progress at the state level.

  • João Marinotti ’20

    João Marinotti ’20 wants to know how the world works

    May 27, 2020

    “I’ve always had a passion for engaging in my curiosity,” says João Marinotti ‘20, a linguist turned lawyer whose work focuses on sustainability, business, property, and private law.

  • Businesses Seek Sweeping Shield From Pandemic Liability Before They Reopen

    April 29, 2020

    Business lobbyists and executives are pushing the Trump administration and Congress to shield American companies from a wide range of potential lawsuits related to reopening the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, opening a new legal and political fight over how the nation deals with the fallout from Covid-19. Government officials are beginning the slow process of lifting restrictions on economic activity in states and local areas across the country. But lobbyists say retailers, manufacturers, eateries and other businesses will struggle to start back up if lawmakers do not place temporary limits on legal liability in areas including worker privacy, employment discrimination and product manufacturing...In theory, Congress could set uniform federal standards and take away the right to file lawsuits in state courts, said John Goldberg, a Harvard law professor who specializes in torts, or the law of civil wrongs and injuries. The Constitution gives Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce, and restarting a national economy wrecked by a national pandemic would probably qualify. “Saying we’re doing this to restart a national economy that has basically collapsed — it would be pretty hard to say that isn’t directly related to interstate commerce,” he said. But what Congress could do and what it is politically likely to do are two different things.

  • Ending Virus Shutdowns Too Soon Poses Legal Risk for Businesses

    April 20, 2020

    Whenever U.S. stores, restaurants and theaters reopen from coronavirus shutdowns, they may face an unexpected problem: lawsuits from sick patrons and workers. Business owners hit hard by Covid-19 are eager to get back to work as the outbreak shows signs of slowing and the Trump administration pushes for a quick restart of the nation’s economy. But with no vaccine for the easily transmitted virus, companies opening too soon could be blamed if more people get sick...A wave of personal-injury cases could bankrupt businesses, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is recommending government protections. And though it may be difficult to prove that any one company was responsible for spreading Covid-19, legal experts say a surge in such claims could strain the court system...For those that reopen before eradication, there is an increased risk that customers will claim they got sick and suffered due to the company’s negligence, said John Goldberg, a professor at Harvard Law School and an expert in tort law. Plaintiffs must show, among other things, that the business breached a duty of care owed to the customers and that its actions caused them harm, Goldberg said.

  • Illustration

    Getting the Law of Wrongs Right

    April 7, 2020

    In “Recognizing Wrongs,” Goldberg and his co-author argue that much of the criticism of tort law comes from failing to appreciate its character and purposes.

  • Illustration of two rows of three people in suits, one person in the middle of the second row with a bowtie

    Faculty Books in Brief: Winter 2020

    January 7, 2020

    From conformity and the power of social influences to felony and the guilty mind in Medieval England

  • On the Bookshelf: HLS Library Book Talks, Spring 2018 2

    On the Bookshelf: HLS Authors

    December 11, 2019

    This fall, the Harvard Law School Library hosted a series of book talks by Harvard Law School authors on topics ranging from forgiveness in law, transparency in health and fidelity in constitutional practice.

  • Classroom of students

    JET-Powered Learning

    August 21, 2019

    1L January Experiential Term courses focus on skills-building, collaboration and self-reflection

  • Linda Fairstein, Once Cheered, Faces Storm After ‘When They See Us’ A Netflix series about the Central Park jogger case has led to intense criticism of the famous prosecutor-turned-novelist who oversaw the investigation.

    June 11, 2019

    For much of her life, Linda Fairstein was widely viewed as a law enforcement hero. As one of the first leaders of the Manhattan district attorney’s sex crimes unit, later the inspiration for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” she became one of the best known prosecutors in the country. She went on to a successful career as a crime novelist and celebrity former prosecutor, appearing on high-profile panels and boards. But since last Friday and the premiere of “When They See Us,” Ava DuVernay’s Netflix series about the Central Park jogger case, Ms. Fairstein has become synonymous with something else: The story of how the justice system wrongly sent five black and Latino teenagers to prison for a horrific rape...In a statement, a lawyer for Ms. Fairstein, Andrew T. Miltenberg, accused Netflix and Ms. DuVernay of “misrepresenting the facts in an inflammatory and inaccurate manner” and threatened to take legal action. (John C.P. Goldberg, a Harvard law professor and expert on defamation law, said that Ms. Fairstein’s position as a public figure would make it difficult for her to win a defamation suit.)

  • Robert Sitkoff

    Sitkoff, HLS authors contribute to the study of fiduciary law

    April 29, 2019

    Harvard Law School Professor Robert H. Sitkoff has co-edited The Oxford Handbook of Fiduciary Law, a handbook, slated for release today, that features important contributions from Sitkoff and from several other HLS scholars to the growing field of fiduciary law throughout its 48 chapters.

  • notes and comment 3

    Collaboration zone

    April 26, 2019

    Library event provides unique opportunity for faculty-student interaction.

  • HLS200 finale celebrates clinics

    HLS 200 finale celebrates clinics

    May 2, 2018

    On April 20, HLS in the Community wrapped up a year-long celebration of Harvard Law School's bicentennial by highlighting the contributions made by HLS clinics and students practice organizations (SPOs).

  • Why Fox News will probably not be penalized for airing a Seth Rich conspiracy theory

    March 15, 2018

    By Fox News's own admission, a retracted report in May about the deceased Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was bad journalism. Nevertheless, the network is well-positioned to fend off a lawsuit brought by Rich's family that alleges “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” according to legal experts...The network has not offered a detailed explanation of how the faulty news report made it online and on the air. But John Goldberg, a professor at Harvard Law School, said he “would expect that most courts would be ... reluctant to impose liability on journalists — even highly irresponsible journalists — out of concern to protect freedom of the press.”

  • Big pharma’s role in the opioid crisis

    December 4, 2017

    Stamford’s largest biotech company is mostly known by government officials and the general public because of one drug. As the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma has been pummeled by controversy since the opioid hit the market in 1996. The company has poured many millions of dollars into promoting Oxy, and made billions in return. But an increasing number of public officials and medical professionals see the revenues as tainted because they say Purdue has knowingly stoked the escalating epidemic of opioid abuse by consistently making false claims about a drug linked to thousands of deaths...In 2007, Purdue pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally misbranding OxyContin to mislead and defraud physicians and patients. The company agreed to pay some $600 million in criminal and civil penalties and other payments. Despite the perception that settlements represent at least some admission of guilt, companies see agreements with plaintiffs as preferable to the risks associated with a case going to trial. “Jury decisions are very unpredictable,” said John Goldberg, a professor at Harvard Law School. “It’s very possible that they’d lose their shirts if they went to trial. There could be some catastrophic punitive damages awarded. They want the closure. What businesses tend to hate the most is uncertainty.”

  • Medical errors cost the country billions. Does the hospital or patient pay?

    October 27, 2017

    ...More than 400,000 Americans die annually in part because of avoidable medical errors, according to a 2013 estimate published in the Journal of Patient Safety. In 2008, the most recent year studied, medical errors cost the country $19.5 billion, most of which was spent on extra care and medication, according to another report. If a problem such as Thompson's stemmed from negligence, a malpractice lawsuit may be an option. But lawyers who collect only when there's a settlement or a victory may not take on a case unless it's exceptionally clear that the doctor or hospital was at fault. That creates a Catch-22, said John Goldberg, a professor at Harvard Law School and an expert in tort law. "We'll never know if something has happened because of malpractice," he said, "because it's not financially viable to bring a lawsuit." That leaves the patient responsible for extra costs.

  • The Forgotten Sexual Assault Allegation That Could Bring Down Trump

    October 19, 2017

    ...After the election, Allred, a high-profile feminist activist and die-hard Hillary Clinton supporter, found herself at a loss for how to console the young women who admired her, according to a recent New Yorker profile of the lawyer. Not knowing what to say, she decided to act. Three days before Trump's inauguration, the two women filed a lawsuit against him and announced it at a press conference. They were suing Trump not for sexual harassment or assault but for defamation—the accusation is that Trump called Zervos a liar when he knew very well that she was telling the truth...John Goldberg, a professor at Harvard Law School, told me that politicians' jobs often involve calling their opponents liars, making defamation charges tricky. "A suit by a losing opponent, for example, would be regarded as 'sour grapes,'" he says.

  • Law professor pushes for more stringent bystander laws

    May 12, 2017

    Kordel Davis, a member of Beta Theta Pi at Penn State University, says he told his fraternity brothers to call 911 after noticing a 19-year-old pledge who had been drinking tumble down the stairs, then end up comatose on a couch. Nobody called for 40 minutes, and the young man, Timothy Piazza, was later pronounced dead. Amos Guiora, a law professor at the University of Utah, says Mr. Davis should have done more than just urge someone else to call for help. Mr. Guiora is leading a push to impose a duty on bystanders to take affirmative action to assist those they see in peril... “Prosecutors rarely if ever actually prosecute persons for these crimes,” said John Goldberg, a law professor at Harvard University. Mr. Goldberg said there’s a difference between pressing someone to alert authorities if they see a person being beaten from a distance and demanding they step forward to try to stop murder by agents of a genocidal government.

  • Legal Test Of School’s Responsibility In $41.5 Million Hotchkiss Case

    March 27, 2017

    An op-ed by John Goldberg and Benjamin Zipursky. On Monday, the Connecticut Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Munn v. Hotchkiss, a tragic personal injury case. The court will be sorely tempted to make bad law in Munn. It must resist that temptation. Cara Munn, 15, was bitten by a tick while hiking on a mountain in China during a summer trip organized by The Hotchkiss School, her private school. The tick transmitted encephalitis, which has left her permanently unable to speak. Cara and her parents sued Hotchkiss in a federal court, arguing that the school was negligent for failing to warn them that the trip might bring her into contact with disease-bearing insects and for failing to take steps to ensure that she used insect repellant, wore proper clothes while walking in forested areas and checked herself for ticks.

  • Burke Ramsey Says He Didn’t Kill JonBenét, Plans to Sue CBS Over ‘False’ Attack

    September 22, 2016

    The recent special, “The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey,” which aired on CBS earlier this week, has drawn widespread attention for exploring the 20-year-old unsolved mystery of the 6-year-old girl’s death. In the show, investigators examined evidence and came to the conclusion that JonBenét’s brother Burke Ramsey, who was 9 at the time, was the likely culprit. While not everyone bought into the theory that the boy killed his little sister — perhaps by accident — , and then his parents covered it up to protect him, it’s gotten a lot of people talking...On top of those elements, Harvard Law Professor John Goldberg said that because Ramsey has spoken about the case, like he did in an interview with Dr. Phil, a court would likely consider him a ““limited purpose public figure.” This means that when it comes to statements made about Burke in connection to the case, he would be considered a public figure, which carries an additional burden. Goldberg said, “Burke could only prevail on a defamation claim against CBS or the investigators by proving not only that the allegations against him are false, but also that CBS and/or the investigators either KNEW that they were false when they made them, or were RECKLESS with regard to the truth or falsity of the allegations.”

  • MassBay Professor Threatens to Sue Student Who Organized Protest

    April 29, 2016

    A MassBay Community College professor is threatening legal action against a student who organized a protest last week in response to the school's handling of abuse allegations. Bruce Jackson, Chair of the Department of Biotechnology and Forensic DNA Science at MassBay, has provided Patch with a letter of intent to sue Greg Gregory for defamation following statements made on a flyer advertising the protest...John Goldberg, a Harvard Law School professor who teaches about defamation cases, said that if the case were to move forward much scrutiny would be placed on Jackson's status as a public or private figure, as MassBay is a publicly funded community college. "The main question is whether or not the professor counts as a public figure by being employed by a state institution," Goldberg said. "If you're a public figure and defamed, you have to prove that the person who defamed you said something about you that was false and knew at the time that they were uttering a falsehood, which is a hard standard to meet."

  • Extended Sandy Hook lawsuit might just be what the plaintiffs need

    April 24, 2016

    When a Connecticut judge last week allowed family members of Sandy Hook Elementary shooting victims to continue their lawsuit against a gun manufacturer, experts saw the decision as a means to put off deciding the legal merits of the case...Bushmaster almost certainly doesn't have to worry about losing the case, but it also wants to avoid a major settlement and any negative publicity around the case that could sour public opinion toward them, according to John Goldberg, a tort law expert at Harvard Law School. "The gun manufacturers are going to have to weigh risks against other risks," Goldberg told Mashable. "If they do end up settling this, then that's a signal to other plaintiffs out there that if they get a somewhat favorable ruling from a judge, then they can succeed as well."

  • A medical mistake happens. Who pays the bill?

    November 9, 2015

    ...When things like this happen, questions arise: Who’s responsible? If treatment makes things worse — meaning that a patient needs more care than expected — who pays? It depends...But lawyers who collect only when there’s a settlement or a victory may not take on a case unless it’s exceptionally clear that the doctor or hospital was at fault. That creates a Catch-22, said John Goldberg, a professor at Harvard Law School and an expert in tort law. “We’ll never know if something has happened because of malpractice,” he said, “because it’s not financially viable to bring a lawsuit.” That leaves the patient responsible for extra costs.

  • Ben Carson Was Sued for Malpractice at Least Eight Times

    November 4, 2015

    Ben Carson had a pretty remarkable track record for a job that involved slicing people’s heads open. In his three-decade-long career as a neurosurgeon, Carson, the newly minted leader of the ever-fickle Republican polls, faced a total of eight malpractice claims in the state of Maryland, according to the Maryland Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office...“The key question in a case involving an allegation of a botched neurosurgery is whether the defendant or surgeon used the care and skill that is customary among neurosurgeons,” Harvard Law School professor John Goldberg told The Daily Beast... “In the case you mention, the plaintiff would have been required to prove, first, that Dr. Carson actually did not examine the MRI (a factual issue), and, second, that prevailing standards among surgeons required him to consult the MRI before conducting surgery of the sort that was performed (a legal issue).” He added that the plaintiff would also have to prove that there was a direct link between the perceived error and the problems that occurred thereafter.

  • Steve Wynn’s Inventive Casino Law Suit: Experts Say It’s A Gamble

    October 9, 2015

    Wynn Resorts and supporters of their plan for a casino in Everett are lashing out in their ongoing feud with the city of Boston. About two dozen Supporters of a planned casino project in Everett gathered outside Boston City Hall Wednesday to protest the city’s ongoing legal fight against the casino plan...The protest comes after Wynn filed a libel lawsuit over press leaks. The suit doesn’t actually name a defendant, but Wynn wants to know how the media obtained a city subpoena of Wynn before it was even served. That subpoena alleges Wynn knowingly made illegal deals for the Everett land with a convicted felon. Wynn says that’s untrue, but Harvard University law professor John Goldberg says the case is an uphill battle for Wynn, since the contents of legal proceedings can’t be considered libel. “And then the only question is whether repeating those privileged contents in some other circumstance would get somebody in trouble, and I think that’s very unlikely.”

  • Are Gun-Makers ‘Totally Free Of Liability For Their Behavior’?

    October 6, 2015

    Hillary Clinton seemed to be barely holding back tears at a town hall in New Hampshire on Monday. Speaking in the aftermath of another tragic mass shooting, this time at an Oregon community college, the Democratic presidential candidate pitched her gun control proposals. In the middle of her remarks, she made a big claim: She said that gun-makers and sellers are "the only business in America that is totally free of liability for their behavior."...However, Clinton "is not totally off base," said John Goldberg, a professor at Harvard Law School and specialist in tort law. He said Congress was particularly "aggressive" in granting the gun industry this legal shield. "Congress has rarely acted to bar the adoption by courts of particular theories of liability against a particular class of potential defendants, especially when that form of liability has not yet been recognized by the courts," he said.

  • John Goldberg: on ‘Inexcusable Wrongs’, Torts, and Private Law

    September 1, 2015

    Harvard Law School Professor John C.P. Goldberg, an expert in tort law, tort theory, and political philosophy, recently discussed some of the work that he’s done at HLS as well as a forthcoming book on torts that he is co-authoring with Fordham Law School Professor Benjamin C. Zipursky.

  • Smith_Henry

    New Private Law: looking at traditional interpersonal law in a different light

    August 31, 2015

    HLS Professors John C.P. Goldberg and Henry E. Smith’s “New Private Law” blog launched recently in an effort to expand interest in the notion that traditional interpersonal, "private" law deserves a fresh look.

  • Limit on Damages Is Squeezing Victims of Amtrak Wreck

    July 25, 2015

    ...But even though Amtrak has announced that it will not contest lawsuits filed against the company for the accident, Ms. Varnum and Mr. MacFarland fear they will have to come up with tens of thousands of dollars for medical bills out of their own pockets. The couple hope their lawsuit will highlight the fact that the congressionally mandated cap on liability for Amtrak accidents can leave victims with enormous bills...“When Congress enacted the cap, it made the judgment that victims of large-scale railroad crashes will be among those who have to bear the cost of keeping Amtrak up and running,” said John C. P. Goldberg, a law professor at Harvard and expert on tort law. “It is very difficult to see why, in effect, some of the subsidy should come from the victims of train crashes rather than the public.”

  • Bernie Sanders’ misleading characterization of a controversial gun law

    July 10, 2015

    ...[Bernie] Sanders, an Independent running for the Democratic presidential nomination, characterized the law as providing immunity for gun manufacturers from being sued when a gun is misused by a third party. It’s as if a hammer manufacturer were be held responsible if someone used the hammer to beat someone else, he said....While the law provides protections that no other industry has, courts have been reluctant to impose liability on manufacturers for third-party misuse of the product, said John Goldberg, Harvard Law School professor who specializes in product liability. So the types of lawsuits that Sanders mentioned (for hammers or guns) didn’t have a slam-dunk chance in court before this law came about. Instead, this law ensures that those types of lawsuits can’t be brought against gun manufacturers.

  • The 1997 law that limits compensation to victims of railway accidents

    May 15, 2015

    The victims of Tuesday's tragic railway derailment in Philadelphia may find themselves twice victimized when they attempt to recover damages from Amtrak, thanks to a 1997 law that caps damages to all passengers injured in a major railway accident to $200 million. The Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act (ARAA), passed to save the railway from bankruptcy, was lauded by then-President Bill Clinton as the “most comprehensive restructuring of Amtrak since the early 1980s.” Legal analysts and plaintiffs' attorneys say it was a bailout...“They essentially traded off the right of the victim to obtain full compensation for the economic viability of Amtrak,” said John Goldberg, the Eli Goldston Professor of Law at Harvard law school. “If damages exceed the liability cap, someone is out of luck and won’t get full compensation. That’s a controversial policy judgment Congress made, one they have yet to make in other cases.”

  • “Winner takes all” at the 2015 Public Interest Auction

    May 8, 2015

    Karaoke with five HLS professors. A fashion shopping spree with Professor I. Glenn Cohen ’03. A classic movie night with Dean Martha Minow. These were just a few of the unique experiences auctioned off at the 21st annual Public Interest Auction on April 9th.

  • After Controversial Attendance Study, Committee Will Discuss Privacy

    February 24, 2015

    After University President Drew G. Faust referred the discussion of news that researchers had photographed thousands of students last year without their knowledge to an electronic oversight committee, that body is discussing the broad implications related to privacy and expects to report back to her by the end of the term...“The committee has not been charged with investigating or reporting on the attendance study,” the chair of the group, Harvard Law School professor John C. P. Goldberg, wrote in an email last month. He added that the “study served as a springboard for general discussions among committee members about privacy interests that may be at stake when classrooms are observed.”

  • Threatened By Liability, Iowa City Bans Sledding (audio)

    January 15, 2015

    The city of Dubuque, Iowa, is the latest city to pass a ban on sledding...Harvard law professor John Goldberg says it suits like these that are leading some cities, like Dubuque, to consider sledding restrictions or bans even when state laws try to protect them. John Goldberg: All it takes is a couple of high-profile judgments to get people worried, so I think, in this case, it may be not so much a calculation of oh, my God, it's only a matter of time before we get sued and more gee, if we do get sued, which is a low probability event, the stakes might be quite high. We could be talking about millions of dollars in liability. And why take the risk when we don't have to?

  • Defending scarce leg space in flight: A right or grounds to sue?

    September 10, 2014

    Bringing something onto a plane that blocks others from reclining their seats is legal. But should it be?...John Goldberg, Harvard Law School professor and an expert on torts, says that someone prevented from reclining might be able to make the unlikely argument that they were held against their will. “The cute way to do it would be to argue this is almost false imprisonment,” Goldberg says. Granted, it would be a stretch, since you can still get up and go to the bathroom and walk around. Someone using Knee Defender might even have a better chance of winning in court than the recliner does. Goldberg says, “If the person could actually show—and it’s a big if—that the reclining passenger acted carelessly with respect to their physical well-being, then they’d have a case. But it’s a tough showing.”

  • Sleeping Yankees Fan’s Lawsuit Won’t Get Far, Legal Experts Say

    July 15, 2014

    Legal experts are skeptical of the $10 million lawsuit filed by a man after he was broadcast on ESPN while sleeping during a baseball game…“[Rector was] clearly..set up for ridicule. He’s unfortunate. He’s been made a butt of jokes. But there’s just no defamatory statement about him,” Harvard Law School professor John Goldberg told TIME, noting that defamation suits rest more on reputation damages than emotional distress. Goldberg added that the suit, which was filed in Bronx County Supreme Court in New York, would face an uphill — if not entirely vertical — battle. Though there are constitutional limits applying to all U.S. states, New York is “notoriously unfriendly to defamation suits,” and it is “very unlikely that the suit will get anywhere,” he said.

  • ‘Inexcusable Wrongs’

    December 16, 2013

    In many areas of law, excuses can defeat liability. Criminal law recognizes duress or provocation as excuses to reduce a criminal defendant’s punishment. In Contracts,…

  • John Goldberg appointed to the Goldston chair at HLS (video)

    August 22, 2012

    Harvard Law School Professor John C.P. Goldberg has been appointed to the Eli Goldston Professorship of Law. Goldberg, an expert in tort law, tort theory and political philosophy, joined HLS as a tenured faculty member in 2008. Previously, he was Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research at Vanderbilt University.

  • Recent Faculty Books – Summer 2012

    July 1, 2012

    “After Sex? On Writing Since Queer Theory” (Duke), edited by Professor Janet Halley and Andrew Parker. Contributors to the development of queer studies offer personal reflections on the potential and limitations of the field, asking to what extent it is defined by a focus on sex and sexuality.

  • “Stones of Hope: How African Activists Reclaim Human Rights to Challenge Global Poverty” (Stanford University Press, November 2010) edited by Professor Lucie White ’81 and Jeremy Perelman S.J.D. ’11.

    Recent Faculty Books – Winter 2011

    December 6, 2011

    “Prospects for the Professions in China” (Routledge, 2010) edited by William P. Alford ’77, William Kirby and Kenneth Winston. Through its meditations on Chinese professional…

  • Goldberg and students provide analysis to Gulf Coast Claims Facility administrator

    July 1, 2011

    This fall, Professor John Goldberg, a tort law specialist at Harvard Law School, unexpectedly found himself engaged in a research project that could impact the lives of thousands of Americans. And it needed to be completed in a matter of weeks.

  • Professors Smith and Goldberg reinvigorate the study of Private Law at HLS

    March 2, 2011

    HLS Professors John Goldberg and Henry Smith are working to reinvigorate the study of contracts, torts, and property with the new Private Law Workshop, which they co-teach as part of the Project on the Foundations of Private Law at Harvard Law School. The workshop, said Goldberg, is “an opportunity to introduce students to some of the emerging literature that’s aiming to rethink the significance of private law in modern legal systems.”