Should Government Be Allowed to Recover the Costs of Public Services from Tortfeasors?: Tort Subsidies, the Limits of Cost Spreading, and the Free Public Services Doctrine

56 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2002 Last revised: 26 Dec 2013

Timothy D. Lytton

Georgia State University College of Law

Abstract

The free public services doctrine (also known as the municipal cost recovery rule) states that a government entity may not recover from a tortfeasor the costs of public services occasioned by the tortfeasor's wrongdoing. This article traces the history of the doctrine and argues for its elimination. The article criticizes case law supporting the doctrine and raises objections based on fairness, efficiency, and institutional concerns about the proper limits of judicial policy making. The article discusses the implications of eliminating the doctrine for tobacco litigation, gun litigation, and tort reform.

Keywords: cost-recoupment litigation, free public services doctrine, tobacco litigation, gun litigation, tax subsidies, tort reform

JEL Classification: K00, K13, K23, K41, K32, E62, H23, H41, H51, H71, I11

Suggested Citation

Lytton, Timothy D., Should Government Be Allowed to Recover the Costs of Public Services from Tortfeasors?: Tort Subsidies, the Limits of Cost Spreading, and the Free Public Services Doctrine. Tulane Law Review, Vol. 76, No. 3, pp. 727-781, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=314762

Timothy D. Lytton (Contact Author)

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

HOME PAGE: http://law.gsu.edu/profile/timothy-d-lytton/

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