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American Museum of Tort Law Opens in Connecticut

26nader1-master675Ralph Nader, American political activist, Presidential candidate, and successful consumer rights attorney, has opened a museum – a Tort Law Museum.

The American Museum of Tort Law is located in Winstead, Connecticut and aims to educate visitors on the evolution of tort lawand featuring exhibits from some of the most groundbreaking cases of the last 50 years. Exhibits regarding the Dalkon Shield, the Chevrolet Corvair, the Ford Pinto, and tobacco litigation are all present.

Nader, who has grown tired of the negative press tort law has received over the past decades created the museum so that the public could see all the good that has come from tort law. He cites automobile safety standards and accountability for products such as tobacco and asbestos as examples.

In addition to physical exhibits which show defective products, some exhibits debunk myths created by those in favor of tort reform. Probably the most famous is that surrounding the 1992 suit by a 79-year-old woman who was badly burned in the groin and thighs when she spilled a cup of scalding McDonald’s coffee. The exhibit aims to counter what it describes as myths stoked by opponents of tort law who painted the case as an example of “lawsuit lottery.”

The display points out the myth involves a woman whom spilled coffee on her lap while she was driving and received millions of dollars despite minimal injuries. In reality, the woman was not driving when the coffee spilled and received third-degree burns that put her in the hospital for eight days and caused permanent scarring. She was not out to fleece McDonald’s (the company rejected her initial request for just $20,000 to cover medical expenses) and though the myth contends she received millions, in reality she received less than $500,000.

Nader is proud of the consumer protection work he has done over the years and wants others to see and appreciate all of the advances that have been made by tort law.

More information regarding this museum can be found at their website: American Museum of Tort Law

*photo by Andrew Sullivan of the New York Times

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