Liability: The Legal Revolution and Its Consequences

By Peter W. Huber | Go to book overview

7
Sentence Without
Verdict

IN 1676, the great English surgeon Richard Wiseman suggested for the first time that cancer might be caused by a sudden, traumatic injury--a blow to the chest, say, or a fall that breaks a leg. The theory remained popular for two centuries. But by the mid-nineteenth century physicians began to recognize that it had no substance. Traumatic injury does not, in fact, cause cancer.

Then workers' compensation laws arrived on the legal scene, first in Germany and other European countries, and eventually in the United States. Court dockets were soon crowded with claims that a blow received on the job had caused cancer some time later.

Scientists and doctors began a vigorous new search for traumatically induced cancer. A typical report in 1928 described an automobile mechanic who was severely struck in the face. The wound healed in two weeks, but eight weeks later the mechanic developed skin cancer at the site of the original injury. The physician reported the case but noted that a cause- and-effect link was "very much doubted." In the ensuing years, medical

-98-

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Liability: The Legal Revolution and Its Consequences
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments x
  • 1 - Uncommon Law 3
  • 2 - The Death of Contract 19
  • 3 - Search for New Rules 33
  • 4 - Knowledge of the Law is No Excuse 45
  • 5 - The New Town Meeting 62
  • 6 - Resetting the Clock 84
  • 7 - Sentence Without Verdict 98
  • 8 - Pain and Punishment 115
  • 9 - Insurance in Retreat 133
  • 10 - What is Deterred? 153
  • 11 - Rights in Collision 172
  • 12 - Compassion by Consent 190
  • 13 - Choosing Safety 207
  • 14 - Consent and Coercion 220
  • Notes 233
  • Index 253
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