Candace Howard

Document Type


Publication Date

April 2005


tort reform, asbestiosis, mesothelioma, bankruptcy reform, environment law


This paper was awarded first place in the 2005 Roscoe Hogan Environmental Law Essay Contest sponsored by the Roscoe Pound Institute. It was published in Vermont Journal of Environmental Law -


The current tort "reform" movement, if successful, will completely undermine our most effective tool for deterring outrageous corporate misconduct: the threat of punitive damages. Such "reform" would have a particularly egregious impact on the environment and public health because, due to a lack of enforcement and the undetectable nature of many pollutants, environmental offenses are often more difficult to deter than other types of offenses. The essay argues that, although rarely imposed for environmental offenses, punitive damages are especially vital in that arena because, when imposed, they are richly deserved. It concludes that, rather than tort reform, what we need in order to protect the health and safety of our communities is bankruptcy reform.