The Economics of Public Nuisance Law and the New Enforcement Actions
Keith N. Hylton
William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, Boston University; Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law
Supreme Court Economic Review, Symposium on Public Nuisance, Forthcoming
Boston Univ. School of Law Working Paper No. 08-19
In contrast to the traditional legal commentary, I find nuisance law to be a coherent body of rules that serves an explainable function. Nuisance optimally regulates activity levels. Nuisance law induces actors to choose socially optimal activity levels by imposing liability when externalized costs are far in excess of externalized benefits or far in excess of background external costs. The new enforcement actions for lead paint abatement or gun control purposes have an arguable theoretical basis in nuisance law. However, as currently framed, the lawsuits are inconsistent with significant parts of the doctrine and the theory.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: public nuisance law, private nuisance law, strict liability, activity levels, external costs, external benefits, lead paint litigation, gun litigation
JEL Classification: K00, K13, K40Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 20, 2008
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