Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Disasters and the law

I just received a copy of Disasters and the Law, the new book by Dan Farber and Jim Chen (Aspen 2006, ISBN 0735562288). It's an interesting read, obviously intended for teaching a course with the same title/focus as the book. It's a really different take on a lot of topics that would otherwise be found chopped up into pieces and distributed to different legal disciplines. To get a flavor of it, check out the publisher's description on the Aspen web site:

Recent hurricanes and other natural disasters demonstrate serious gaps in the legal system and its ability to respond to events of this magnitude. Innovative policies are needed if society is to deal effectively with the aftermath of these disasters and the risk of future ones. Disasters and the Law: Katrina and Beyond studies disaster response, prevention, and mitigation strategies. By integrating knowledge and experience from fields as diverse as urban planning, bankruptcy law, and wetlands law, the authors talk about the legal process in disaster response and reconstruction. Past responses to Hurricane Andrew, the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the Loma Prieta Earthquake also are discussed along with a history of U.S. disaster response efforts.

The book examines a wide range of issues and engages in provocative discussion of such topics as:

  • The goals and limits of Federal and military involvement in civilian and domestic support and our expectations of a swift and multi-layered response from government in times of a crisis versus government and private sector capabilities.
  • Medicaid issues raised by the hurricane such as the New York Disaster Relief Medicaid waiver granted in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks and current federal legislation related to Medicaid and
    Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
  • Environmental issues such as the Army Corps of Engineers' work on levee constructions and the controversy over environmental litigation's role in the Corps' projects, as well as the future re-construction on floodplains.
  • Issues concerning health care, communications, law enforcement, and evacuation.

Katrina alone will involve at least a hundred billion dollars in compensation, insurance, and rebuilding efforts, and lawyers will be heavily involved for at least the remainder of the decade in disputes over these funds. Unfortunately, there is no reason at all to think that Katrina is the last word on disasters. At first glance, disaster law seems to be nothing but a collection of legal rules of various kinds that happen to come into play when communities have suffered severe physical damage. But at a deeper level, disaster law is about assembling the best portfolio of legal rules to deal with catastrophic risks, a portfolio that includes prevention, emergency response, compensation and insurance, and rebuilding strategies. Because of this unifying theme, we think that the topic is deserving of serious law school attention even beyond its newsworthy qualities. Dan Farber

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. Federalism
  4. Statutes & Regulations
  5. Prevention & Mitigation
  6. Emergency Response
posted by tommayo, 8:01 PM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter