Against Liability for Private Risk-Exposure

61 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2012

See all articles by Sheila B. Scheuerman

Sheila B. Scheuerman

Suffolk University Government Department

Date Written: March 26, 2012


Can a plaintiff who has not yet suffered an injury sue based on the risk of future harm? After decades of addressing whether these “no injury” or “unmanifested defect” suits are cognizable, courts today are intractably divided. This conflict has created incentives for forum-shopping as plaintiffs search for a jurisdiction friendly to “no injury” lawsuits and class certification. Using these “no injury” or “unmanifested defect” cases as a frame of reference, this Article argues that private risk-exposure should not be compensable. The Article begins by considering whether risk-exposure itself should be considered “harm.” Concluding that risk alone is not a setback to an interest, the Article then examines whether risk exposure should be compensable. Using the two dominant private law camps — utilitarianism and justice — the Article concludes that allowing liability for private risk-exposure is not justified. Claims for private risk-exposure are best addressed through the administrative process.

Keywords: risk, Toyota, torts, class actions, warranty, no injury, products liability

JEL Classification: K12, K13, K4, K41

Suggested Citation

Scheuerman, Sheila B., Against Liability for Private Risk-Exposure (March 26, 2012). Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 35, 2012, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Sheila B. Scheuerman (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Government Department ( email )

41 Temple Street
Boston, MA 02114
United States

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