Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

Restatement Redux


Anita Bernstein

First Page



American products liability buffs, who often have a predilection for history, may remember 1994 as a year of proclaimed harmonization, codification, and restatement. In April 1994 the American Law Institute released the first Council Draft of its Restatement (Third) of Torts: Products Liability. According to the Institute, "[p]roducts liability is highest in priority for reformulation" within the law of torts generally, "for it is socially important and technically complicated."' During the same year, the Republican party announced a Contract With America that promised national reform of products liability; after the November election, the new congressional majority attended promptly to the federalization of products liability law.

Nineteen ninety-four also marked a less-heralded event in the annals of comprehensive treatments of products liability, the publication of Product Liability by Jane Stapleton of Balliol College at Oxford. Stapleton's book is in part commentary on another grand restatement, the European products liability reform statute. It also serves as a basic text of common-law doctrine. At a richer level, however, Product Liability is a great work of destruction, an attack not only on the basic dogma that there ought to be a separate law for harms caused by manufactured products but also, more obliquely, on the very idea of restatement.

Included in

Torts Commons