Where Are We Headed, Hal? Product Liability in the Next 100 Years.

AuthorAnderson, William L.

I suspect about half of the readers don't even get the reference to Hal anymore. When 2001: A Space Odyssey came out in 1968, the year 2001 was the far distant future, and the moon landing had not even occurred. The movie blew our minds with its depiction of a sentient computer (friendly Hal) on a space flight to Jupiter who ended up taking over the ship. The ship went where Hal wanted it to go.

At the beginning of this IADC year, the Product Liability Committee was asked to assume responsibility for one full volume of the Defense Counsel Journal. We picked April and set about soliciting articles. Curtis Ott, Vice-Chair of Journals, and Jaimme Collins, Vice-Chair of Special Projects, have jointly led the effort. As an organizing theme, we decided to play off the 100th Anniversary of the IADC. But instead of looking backwards, we decided to look forwards. Where are we going, Hal? And who is driving this ship?

The collection of articles in this edition is superb. We are grateful to the distinguished authors who stepped up and contributed articles on several important directions of our practice area. The "100 year" target in the title is, of course, out of reach, but perhaps we can capture the next two decades at least. The companion introduction by Defense Counsel Journal Editor Kenneth Meyer describes the approach of each article--take a look to see if something catches your eye.

In addition to the key articles, I asked a number of the Committee's most distinguished and longstanding practitioners to predict some trends in the direction of product liability litigation. These short pieces are pure opinion and thus do not look like your traditional law review articles. But we thought that the views of these contributors, including several past chairs of the Product Liability Committee, would provide valuable insight for our members into the areas of law and other developments we can expect to dominate our practices in at least the near future. My thanks to each of these authors who stepped up on short notice and contributed to this edition.

In the spirit of leading from in front, I suppose, let me start with my own thoughts from 30-plus years of product liability work. Prepare for the following, space travelers, Hal is in charge.

The split between federal and state courts will get worse. We all would prefer as defendants to be in federal court. One reason is the applicable law--Daubert rulings in Louisiana have produced four consecutive...

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