Robert L. Rabin


In this Article, I offer four representative illustrations of Judge Jack Weinstein’s creative efforts to recast traditional tort concepts in a fashion responsive, by his lights, to accident law claims that pressed against the boundaries of the conventional interpersonal tort law process. In the first of these cases, dealing with a cluster of blasting cap injuries to minors, Judge Weinstein addressed the puzzle of the indeterminate defendant. In the second, war veterans’ claims from Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam, he wrestled with indeterminacy of both defendants and plaintiffs. In the third, the handgun cases, the mass claims dimension so evident in Agent Orange was less salient than the public safety perspective that animated his doctrinal creativity. And finally, in the tobacco punitive damages class action, he returned to a concern for reaching closure in a seemingly intractable public health controversy that served as an underlying theme in Agent Orange, as well. Each of these cases, in its own way, served as a vehicle for Judge Weinstein to realign enterprise liability theory to give priority to risk spreading over risk allocation as an expression of his distinctive commitment to redress of injury victims. In a final section of this Article, I discuss how these judicial strategies mesh with Judge Weinstein’s published efforts in the academic sphere to articulate his vision of the role of tort law.