Article

Social Justice Tort Theory

Author / Creator
Chamallas, Martha
Part of
Journal of tort law, 2021, Vol.14 (2), p.309-332
DOI
10.1515/jtl-2021-0029
Summary
  • Alongside the dominant law and economics and corrective justice approaches to tort law, a new genre of tort theory based on principles and perspectives of social justice has come into its own and deserves recognition. Social justice tort theory starts from the premise that tort law reflects and reinforces systemic forms of injustice in the larger society and maintains that the compensatory ideal of tort law cannot be extricated from these larger systems. It is multi-dimensional and intersectional, recognizing that the impact of injury lands intersectionally, sometimes changing the intensity of the injury or distorting the nature of the injury. Social justice tort scholars have examined torts in gendered and racialized contexts, as well as in ordinary cases that seem to have little to do with systemic injury. In addition to feminist and critical race theory, they have borrowed from critical disability studies, queer theory and political economy. Their work demonstrates how tort law unfairly distributes damages, fails to provide adequate relief for victims of sexual assault or for people who suffer racial insult and discrimination, and erases maternal and reproductive harms. In their work, we can see common deconstructive moves (an emphasis on disparate impacts and devaluation; a teasing out of cognitive bias; and a critique of exceptionalism in tort doctrine) as well as guiding principles for reconstruction (incorporating victims’ perspectives; treating boundaries between civil rights law and tort law as permeable; and enhancing dignity and recognition).

Date
2021-10-26
Publication
Journal of tort law
Volume
14
Issue
2
Pages
309-332
Peer-reviewed
Yes (Scholarly)
Language
English
Publisher
De Gruyter
ISSN
1932-9148
ISSN
2194-6515
EISSN
1932-9148
DOI
10.1515/jtl-2021-0029

Subjects

  • Critical race theory
  • dignity
  • disability
  • Feminism
  • intersectional
  • Political economy
  • Sex crimes
  • sexual abuse
  • Social justice
  • tort damages
  • tort theory
  • Torts