Confounded Expectations: The Law's Struggle with Personal Responsibility

Confounded Expectations: The Law's Struggle with Personal Responsibility

by George W. Jarecke, Nancy K. Plant

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George W. Jarecke and Nancy K. Plant present a selection of cases across a broad spectrum of American law to demonstrate that our society relies inappropriately on the legal system to cure ills the system was not designed to address.

Jarecke and Plant note that while we in the United States worry considerably about the problem of individual assumption of responsibility—whether for personal mistakes, financial setbacks, or pure bad luck—we appear uneasy about the concept and unclear about what it means on a daily basis. Not only are we incapable of accepting personal responsibility; we barely know what it means to do so.

Mistakenly, we turn to the legal system to solve this dilemma. Yet our laws as our legislators write them, as judges interpret them, as lawyers argue them, and as juries apply them send mixed messages about whether and how we should exercise personal responsibility.

Each chapter of Confounded Expectations features one main case to explain one legal theory, with other cases noted as examples of facets of each theory. To demonstrate the law that requires merchants to guarantee the quality of their products, for example, Jarecke and Plant discuss the case of the band mothers whose fund-raising luncheon menu included turkey salad contaminated by salmonella.  Peripheral cases include a horse falsely sold as a gelding, a riding mower that tipped over when used as instructed, makeup that was guaranteed to be safe but caused a rash, and pigs sick with hog cholera.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780809322916
Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
Publication date: 06/01/2000
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 168
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

George W. Jarecke, former instructor in the English department at Auburn University and in-house counsel at American International Group, is now a part-time lawyer and full-time writer. 

Nancy K. Plant, former associate professor at Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware, is currently in-house counsel at Immunex Corporation, a biotechnology company in Seattle.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Unintentional Balloonist with Button Slippers1
Part 1Following the Rules
1.Sex in the Backseat: More Dangerous Than You Think11
2.It's Not What You Say That Hurts You: The Implied Warranties17
3.This Land Is Your Land: Whether You Want It or Not25
Part 2Making It Fair
4.Mary and Her Little Lamb: A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?35
5.Sweet Home, Alabama: Punitive Damages as Lottery42
6.Accidents Will Happen49
Part 3Gaming the System
7.The Case of the Cranky Professor59
8.Someone's Knocking at My Door: And She Has a Summons and a Complaint66
9.The Fresh Start: But Not for the Rotten Apples76
Part 4Weighing the Interests
10.The Hole in the Safety Net: When the Government Goofs87
11.When a Promise Isn't a Promise94
12.The Buck Stops Here: When Delegating Authority Isn't Enough102
13.Murder Most Foul109
Conclusion: Vanishing Remedies117
Selected Bibliography145

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