Tort Reform, Innovation, and Playground Design
42 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2005
This essay directly confronts a key claim underlying calls for tort reform: that current product liability law negatively impacts innovation. It begins by outlining the current state of the product liability/innovation debate, and details the arguments and empirical evidence for and against a negative correlation. The essay then argues that when confronted by potential product liability entrepreneurial companies do not simply patch failed products, they fully rethink and redesign them. As such, product liability can actually spur innovation. The essay also indulges in a discussion of the economist Joseph Schumpeter's entrepreneurial mindset and a Calabresian argument that manufacturers are probably in the best position to innovate and "make lemonade" out of the lemons of design defects. The essay then applies these theories to playground design and argues that product liability law and heightened safety concerns have actually resulted in a quality revolution in public playgrounds. We have eliminated the stark and joyless concrete and steel "traditional" playground in favor of new playgrounds that are not only safer, but vastly superior on every count: more fun, more interactive, and more gauged towards play.
Keywords: tort reform, innovation, playground design, law and economics
JEL Classification: K10, K13, O30, O31, O33, O38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation