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Tobacco Industry Influence on the American Law Institute's Restatements of Torts and Implications for Its Conflict of Interest Policies

68 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2012  

Elizabeth Laposata

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

Richard L. Barnes

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); University of California Hastings College of the Law

Stanton Arnold Glantz

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - School of Medicine

Date Written: November 1, 2012

Abstract

The American Law Institute (“ALI”) is a prestigious and influential organization that creates treatises on the current state of the law, including “Restatements” of case law that guide judicial decisions and legislation. This paper uses previously secret tobacco industry documents made available as the result of state and federal litigation against the industry to describe how the tobacco companies, acting both indirectly through their trade organization, the Tobacco Institute, and directly, using influential lawyers, quietly influenced the ALI’s writing of the Restatements.

The tobacco industry’s ease of access to the ALI calls into question the Institute’s independence, the preparation of major policy documents such as the Restatements, as well as the Institute’s ability to monitor and control conflicts of interest. The ALI’s conflict of interest policies lag behind comparable organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, and are insufficient to protect Institute projects from significant outside influence. Because of the undisclosed influence of the tobacco industry over the ALI, courts and legislatures should not apply the principles embodied in the Restatements in tort cases against the tobacco companies for injuries suffered from tobacco use. Until the ALI implements strong conflict of interest policies to ensure independence from private-interest manipulation, courts and legislatures should not rely on Institute reports and recommendations as neutral scholarly summaries of the law that should guide judicial and legislative decision-making.

Suggested Citation

Laposata, Elizabeth and Barnes, Richard L. and Glantz, Stanton Arnold, Tobacco Industry Influence on the American Law Institute's Restatements of Torts and Implications for Its Conflict of Interest Policies (November 1, 2012). Iowa Law Review, Vol. 98, p. 1, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2175850

Elizabeth Laposata

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) ( email )

Third Avenue and Parnassus
San Francisco, CA 94143
United States

Richard L. Barnes (Contact Author)

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) ( email )

Third Avenue and Parnassus
San Francisco, CA 94143
United States

University of California Hastings College of the Law ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

Stanton Arnold Glantz

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) - School of Medicine ( email )

San Francisco, CA 94143
United States

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