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Toxic Torts: Science, Law, and the Possibility of Justice

Climate Justice Chemicals

The U.S. tort, or personal injury law, cloaked behind increased judicial review of science, is changing before our eyes. But we cannot see it.  U.S. Supreme Court decisions beginning with Daubert v. Merrell-Dow Pharmaceutical altered how courts review scientific testimony and its foundation in the law. The complexity of both science and the law mask the overall social consequences of these decisions. Yet they are too important to remain hidden.

Mistaken reviews of scientific evidence can decrease citizen access to the law, increase incentives for firms not to test their products, lower deterrence for wrongful conduct and harmful products, and decrease the possibility of justice for citizens injured by toxic substances. Even if courts review evidence well, greater judicial scrutiny increases litigation costs and attorney screening of clients, and decreases citizens’ access to the law. This book introduces these issues, reveals the relationships that can deny citizens just restitution for harms suffered, and shows how justice can be enhanced in toxic tort cases.

Toxic Torts: Science, Law, and the Possibility of Justice, by CPR Member Scholar Carl Cranor (University of Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside), is now available in paperback.

What the Experts Say about Carl Cranor’s Toxic Torts:


“Carl Cranor has achieved the almost impossible goal of a learned, readable, and exciting book on the torturous interactions between law and science in tort litigation. For a scientist, his analysis of case law in this field is exceptionally informative and provocative.”

  • Ellen K. Silbergeld, PhD, Professor, Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health

“Cranor’s insightful discussions of science and law as it is seen by the Courts in toxic tort litigation is a ‘must read’ for scientists in toxicology, epidemiology, and pharmacology.”

  • Eula Bingham PhD, Professor, College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati

“Toxic Torts is a powerful dissection of the use of science in our system of justice. Professor Cranor has written an important book that examines why most victims of toxic exposures never receive the compensation they deserve.”

  • David Michaels, PhD, MPH, Director, The Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy, and Research Professor and Associate Chairman, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services

“Carl Cranor’s exceptionally lucid analysis of science in regulation and litigation reveals brilliantly why circumstantial evidence currently can convict a dangerous person but not a toxic chemical.”

  • Sheldon Krimsky, Professor, Department of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning, Tufts University
Phthalate image courtesy of Creative Commons.
Climate Justice Chemicals