Catholic University Law Review


With all of the recent advances in science and technology, humans are being exposed to many new and complex substances for the first time. Such exposure has led to an array of medical complications, ranging from cancer to physical deformity. However, simultaneous advances in other areas of science and technology are, for the first time, beginning to provide humans with the tools to pinpoint the causes of disease. Unfortunately, a sufficient causal diagnosis in the medical field does not directly translate to an actionable harm in the U.S. legal system. In particular, injuries that may have resulted from prior generational exposure or injury are especially problematic. Legal recovery for these injuries often runs directly into doctrinal tort concepts that have been cemented in the U.S. legal system for centuries. Through the lens of preconception tort liability, this Comment attempts to reconcile archaic legal concepts with burgeoning medical and technological advances and contends that a coexistence between the two is possible.

The Comment begins with an analysis of seminal preconception tort cases, and in particular, focuses on common roadblocks facing plaintiffs. Next, the Comment identifies medical and scientific advances that may prove useful in addressing these very shortcomings. Drawing on a variety of scientific, medical, and legal sources, the author seeks to provide a workable formula by which courts can begin to recognize tort actions spanning across generations, without having to sacrifice a commitment to hardened legal concepts like foreseeability and causation.

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Torts Commons