Monthly Archives: November 2013

Consortium Grand Rounds: Tobacco Industry Influence of the American Law Institute’s Restatement of Torts and Implications for Conflict of Interest Policies

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 Restatement (Second) of Torts to the substantial benefit of the tobacco industry. The ease of surreptitious access by the tobacco industry 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 American Law Institute’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 American Law Institute, courts and legislatures should not apply the principles embodied in the Restatement of Torts in cases against the tobacco companies for injuries suffered from tobacco use. Until the American Law Institute implements strong conflict of interest policies to ensure that the ALI becomes independent of private interest manipulation, courts and legislatures should not rely on Institute reports and recommendations as neutral scholarly summaries of the law to guide judicial and legislative decision making.

Refreshments will be provided so please RSVP here by Monday, November 11th. 

About the Speakers:

  • Stan Glantz, PhD - Dr. Glantz, the American Legacy Foundation Distinguished Professor of Tobacco Control, conducts research on a wide range of topics ranging from the health effects of secondhand smoke (with particular emphasis on the cardiovascular system) to the efficacy of different tobacco control policies. Dr. Glantz conducts research on a wide range of issues ranging from the effects of secondhand smoke on the heart through the reductions in heart attacks observed when smokefree policies are enacted, to how the tobacco industry fights tobacco control programs.
  • Richard Barnes, JD - Mr. Barnes has been involved in tobacco control for over 17 years, with the last 10 devoted to tobacco control policy research at UCSF. He has authored several articles using tobacco industry internal documents to expose its malfeasance.
  • Elizabeth Laposata, JD, MPH - Elizabeth Laposata (Lah-po-sah-tah) earned her biology and anthrpology degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, her Master of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences from Berkeley, and graduated from Hastings Law School in 2009. She has devoted her working life to public health policy working in childhood obesity and tobacco control policy during and right after law school. She then joined Stanton Glantz and Richard Barnes at the University of California, San Francisco's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education as a tobacco document researcher looking into how the tobacco industry worked to change state tort and initiative and referendum laws.  She has since moved on to Washington, DC and works at the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products as a policy analyst. The work being presented today is published in the Iowa Law Review under the title "Tobacco Industry Influence on the American Law Institute's Restatement of Torts and Implications for Its Conflict of Interest Policies."