Professors Nora Freeman Engstrom (left) and Robert L. Rabin (right) at Stanford Law School.
California has long been a leader in tort law. In the 1963 Greenman v Yuba Power Products case, the state broke new ground by imposing strict liability on manufacturers for defective products, an approach quickly adopted by the Second Restatement of Torts. Five years later, the state went ahead again. In the Dillon v. Legg, the California Supreme Court ruled viewers’ liability for emotional distress, and that same year the Rowland v. Christian lifted the traditional liability categories for landowners. Indeed, the list of “firsts” in California’s tort law is long and varied, including heavyweights like Summers v Tice (1948) who established alternative liability, Tarasoff v Regents of California (1976) who imposed a “duty of warning” About therapists and Sindell v. Abbott Laboratories (1980), which established market share liability for intergenerational harm caused by DES, a drug marketed to pregnant women, supposedly to prevent miscarriages.