Damages in Tort Litigation: Thoughts on Race and Remedies, 1865-2007

25 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2008

See all articles by Jennifer Wriggins

Jennifer Wriggins

University of Maine - School of Law


The relationship between remedies and race in U.S. tort law merits attention. This essay first challenges the boundary between civil rights and tort remedies by highlighting a stunning but previously overlooked 1959 Fifth Circuit case where an individual tort remedy served as a significant civil rights remedy in the integration of public transportation throughout the South. Second, the essay focuses on the relationship between race and damages from 1865 to the present. It argues that the torts system provided access to indigent plaintiffs of all races during periods when poor people were otherwise denied legal representation in every other context. Yet, the classic tort remedy, money, was less readily dispensed to black plaintiffs than to other tort plaintiffs. Recent information suggests that tort remedies are still affected by race in ways that merit more attention.

Keywords: race, torts, legal history

Suggested Citation

Wriggins, Jennifer, Damages in Tort Litigation: Thoughts on Race and Remedies, 1865-2007. Review of Litigation, Vol. 27, pp. 37-61, Fall 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1270756

Jennifer Wriggins (Contact Author)

University of Maine - School of Law ( email )

246 Deering Avenue
Portland, ME 04102
United States

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