The Diffusion of Doctrinal Innovations in Tort Law

103 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2015 Last revised: 17 Feb 2016

See all articles by Kyle Graham

Kyle Graham

Santa Clara University School of Law

Date Written: January 21, 2015

Abstract

This article examines the diffusion of “innovations” — new ideas — in tort law. Drawing from a larger body of research into the spread of new products and ideas, this study charts and evaluates the adoption patterns associated with “successful” common-law doctrinal innovations in the law of torts. This analysis reveals recurring influences upon and tendencies within the spread of novel tort doctrines across the states, and explores the interactive qualities of the diffusion process. Furthermore, these diffusion patterns document a trend toward common-law doctrinal “stabilization” over the past quarter-century. As detailed herein, this stabilization owes in part to altered diffusion dynamics associated with the ongoing diminution and fragmentation of the common-law tort dockets entertained by state supreme courts. The structural character of these influences will make it difficult, this article concludes, for even well-received common-law doctrinal innovations of the future to match the rapid diffusion rates associated with innovations in tort law that spread during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Keywords: torts, diffusion, common law, tort law, empirical

Suggested Citation

Graham, Kyle, The Diffusion of Doctrinal Innovations in Tort Law (January 21, 2015). 99 Marquette Law Review 75 (2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2553627 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2553627

Kyle Graham (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States

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