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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Craziness: Scientists and Lawyers Talk Together: Upcoming “2016 Symposium – The Demise of the

Workplace deaths and injuries are increasingly in focus for many reasons. For one, cancer strikes 1 in 2 US males and 1 in 3 females, and workplace exposures do cause some cancers and other diseases. Second, thanks to great new molecular science, it’s increasingly clear that genetic variability among individuals is very real, and risk factors may vary by orders of magnitude from person A to person Z. And, of course, some jobs are hard physical work and just plain old beat up workers.  On top of all that, workers’ compensation systems are the subjects of torrents of memes and sound bites from a range of constituencies; some say the systems do too little and some say the systems are playgrounds for supposedly nefarious “trial lawyers.”

Against that background, there’s a great looking September symposium that will reach many of the topics, and has been put together by some top notch lawyers and law professors.  And, even better, it’s absolutely great to see lawyers bringing science people into the symposium. The world today is complex, and so multi-disciplinary teams are absolutely critical to fast, useful forward progress, in my opinion. In this instance, the lawyers are letting the stage include Bob Reville, President and CEO of Praedicat, Inc.  As readers may recall, I’ve been raving about Praedicat and their work ever since they became public about their incredible tools. Their tools are unmatched in the world for “looking around corners” to see what’s ahead as to actual and faux “toxins.” Therefore, it’s great to see Bob and Praedicat involved in working with lawyers, actuaries and others to think ahead on where workers’ compensation will or may go.

“2016 Symposium – The Demise of the Grand Bargain: Compensation for Injured Workers in the 21st CenturyBackground

Co-sponsored by the Pound Civil Justice Institute, Northeastern University School of Law and Rutgers Center for Risk and Responsibility. Symposium papers to be published in the Rutgers University Law Review.Workers’ compensation systems arose as one of the great political compromises of the Progressive Era: workers injured on the job gave up the right to sue their employers for personal injury damages in return for less generous but more certain benefits. This exchange became known as The Grand Bargain.

This bargain has survived over the ensuing century despite frequent political battles in the states, often fought below the national radar screen. Over the past 25 years, the attacks on these systems have escalated. Most recently, a politically powerful coalition has proposed further constraints on benefits through implementation of “opt-out” systems, which allow employers to substitute self-designed and self-implemented programs for the traditional statutory system. Remedies have become so constricted in some states that courts have questioned whether a quid pro quo still supports the Grand Bargain.

This conference will re-examine The Grand Bargain in light of evolving legal doctrine, a changed labor market, and changing politics. How well is the workers’ compensation system serving its original purposes of swift, sure, and efficient remedies? Does an employer-based insurance scheme for workplace injuries supplanting tort remedies remain desirable? How does the common law command of a remedy for every legal wrong affect the architecture of workers’ compensation systems? What responsibilities should employers and employees bear in this system? What are the ramifications of a move towards universal health insurance? Responses to these questions can inform debates occurring now in courts and legislatures across America.


  1. The Challenges of the Changing Legal Structure of Workers’ Compensation and the Changing Workforce

  2. The Economics of Workers’ Compensation and the Changing Insurance Market: Who Are the Winners and the Losers in the Evolving Terrain?

  3. Workplace Injuries as a Constitutional Law Issue

  4. Alternative Structures for Addressing Workplace Injuries: Tort Law and Beyond

Paper Writers* and Discussants Leslie I. Boden, Boston University School of Public Health John F. Burton, Jr., Rutgers School  of Management and Labor Relations (emeritus) George W. Conk, Fordham University School of Law Charles R. Davoli, practitioner; Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group Michael C. Duff, University of Wyoming College of Law Price V. Fishback, University of Arizona, Department of Economics Monica Galizzi, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Department of Economics Justin R. Long, Wayne State University Law School James Lynch, Chief Actuary, Insurance Information Institute *Alison D. Morantz, Stanford Law School *Robert L. Rabin, Stanford Law School Robert T. Reville, President, CEO, Praedicat, Inc. *Adam Scales, Rutgers Law School *Emily A. Spieler, Northeastern University School of Law Hon. David B. Torrey, Workers’ Compensation Judge, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania *Robert F. Williams, Rutgers Law School

Participants and Cost Attendance at the Symposium is free for law professors, law students, judges, law clerks, non-profit advocates, and attorney Pound Fellows. Practitioners attend for $150, which includes the cost of lunch and New Jersey/Pennsylvania/New York CLE filing. (CLE accreditation is expected from these states.)

The Pound Institute The Pound Civil Justice Institute is a national legal “think tank” created by pioneering members of the trial bar and dedicated to ensuring access to justice for ordinary citizens. Through its activities, the Institute works to give lawyers, judges, legal educators and the public a balanced view of the issues affecting the U.S. civil justice system.

Northeastern University School of Law Northeastern University School of Law is a national leader in melding experiential education with a theoretical and practical understanding of the role of law in society and the ways in which law advances the public good. The law school advances this vision through rigorous classroom instruction and intensive experiential learning, innovative disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and scholarship, and real world connections in service, scholarship and teaching. Ranked #1 for practical training by The National Jurist, the school’s signature Cooperative Legal Education Program enhances students’ on-campus experience by guaranteeing all students, as part of their three year course of study, a full year of professional experience through four legal placements offered by more than 900 participating employers worldwide.

Rutgers Law School Building on more than 100 years of providing legal education in New Jersey, the newly merged Rutgers Law School, with locations in Camden and Newark, is accredited by the American Bar Association. Steeped in history as a cornerstone of one of the nation’s oldest universities, with a longstanding commitment to social justice, Rutgers is at the forefront of innovation in legal education. With a robust faculty of more than 100 scholars and clinicians, with particular strengths in criminal law, intellectual property, corporate and business law, health law, and public interest law, Rutgers Law offers a comprehensive curriculum, propelled by cutting-edge immersive technology that connects the locations and allows for a fuller range of course offerings. Learn more at”

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