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Sociology of Law and Social Change Class:
Policy Underlying the Law

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: July 27, 1999
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Policy, the Thrown Spark Fires, and Enterprise Liability

by Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata
Part of Series on Teaching Theory, Policy, Practice
Copyright: July 1999. "Fair Use" encouraged.

Recount and cite the Ryan case from the 19thh Century - tort law - in which the Courts ruled that the railroad did not have to compensate homeowners whose homes were destroyed in a conflagration caused by a flying spark to the roof of the house as the steam engine passed by. At least part of the reasoning was based on the policy argument that the United States needed the railroad to be able to distribute goods for the market economy. Therefore legal policy supported the railroads for the "good of the whole country," only the whole country didn't make the profit from the railroad. They just got jobs which would later disappear, when the country needed aerospace development and technological development. These are issues based on the "cost of doing business," and the underlying, unstated assumptions on who should bear that cost; the individual, the community, or the corporation which profits from the business done.

Discuss also the asbestos fiasco. People die behind these decisions.

current: HMOs not to be sued

No vested interests in moving insurance, retirement and health, from one company to the other as the worker becomes obsolescent and must move. Workers seen as fungible.

Include the policy on security guards and rights violations from Zelinski.