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Tort Law and Technology


Mary L. Lyndon


Many commentators argue that tort law is inappropriate for responding to the risks posed by emerging technologies. Courts are often seen as technically incompetent, and the case method is criticized for sending haphazard signals to producers. Administrative agencies, it is argued, have greater expertise than courts, and their capacity for uniform rulemaking allows them to create a stable legal environment that contributes to technical progress and economic growth. These criticisms seem to justify current trends in preemption of tort law-Congress has been considering measures to restrict tort law, and courts are increasingly finding tort law preempted, even in the absence of explicit legislation to that effect.

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