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Bogus, Carl T. 1948-

BOGUS, Carl T. 1948-


Born May 14, 1948, in Fall River, MA; son of Isidore E. and Carolyn (Dashoff) Bogus; married Dale Shepard, 1970 (divorced, 1985); married Cynthia J. Giles (in environmental policy), November 5, 1988; children: Elizabeth, Ian, Zoe. Ethnicity: Jewish. Education: Syracuse University, A.B. (political science), 1970, J.D. 1972. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Society of Friends (Quaker). Hobbies and other interests: Chess.


Office—School of Law, Roger Williams University, 10 Metacom Ave., Bristol, RI 02809. E-mail—[email protected]


Attorney and professor. Steinberg, Green-stein, Gorelick, & Price, Philadelphia, PA, partner, 1973-83; Mesirov, Gelman, Jaffe, Cramer, & Jamieson, Philadelphia, partner, 1983-91; Rutgers University School of Law, Camden, NJ, visiting professor, 1991-96; Roger Williams University School of Law, Bristol, RI, associate professor, 1996-2002, professor, 2002—. Brady Campaign, member of governing board, 1987-93; Common Cause of Rhode Island, member of state governing board, 1999-2001; member of national advisory panel, Violence Policy Center, Washington, DC, 1993—. Military service: Served in U.S. Army Reserve, 1970-76.


American Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association.


Ross Essay Award, American Bar Association, 1991, for "The Invasion of Panama and the Rule of Law."


(Editor and contributor) The Second Amendment in Law and History: Historians and Constitutional Scholars on the Right to Bear Arms, New Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Why Lawsuits Are Good for America: Disciplined Democracy, Big Business, and the Common Law, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Contributor to journals and law reviews, including Constitutional Commentary, Connecticut Law Review, and Indiana Law Review, and to periodicals, including the Nation, American Prospect, Boston Globe, and Providence Journal.


Research of torts and product liability law, common law, the civil justice system, corporatist control of democracy, gun control policy, and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


Attorney and law professor Carl T. Bogus is editor of and a contributor to The Second Amendment in Law and History: Historians and Constitutional Scholars on the Right to Bear Arms. The collection of articles by prominent scholars of law, political science, and history, including Pulitzer Prize-winner Jack Rakove, supports the interpretation of the Second-Amendment right to bear arms as a collective right of the states to maintain an armed militia, rather than a right of the individual.

The contributors follow the history of the debated constitutional interpretation back to the eighteenth century and compare the National Guard of the present to the militia of the past. A Publishers Weekly reviewer described as "most powerful" the essays that study recent "law office history," whereby quotes and passages favoring the individual's right to bear arms are taken out of context, and called the collection an "outstanding discussion."

Bogus wrote Why Lawsuits Are Good for America: Disciplined Democracy, Big Business, and the Common Law in which he argues that "lawsuits are good for America because the common law serves an essential regulatory function." Bogus writes that in nearly all cases where juries award large punitive damages, the trial or appellate judge reduces the verdict to a fraction of the original. One case discussed is the well-known lawsuit of Stella Liebeck, the seventy-nine-year-old woman who spilled, and was burned by, extremely hot coffee purchased at a McDonald's drive-through window. The woman removed the lid and placed the container between her legs, and the coffee spilled onto her as the car pulled away.

The case was thought to be frivolous by many, but the woman's scars were considerable, and she was one of hundreds of people burned by the excessively hot beverage. She offered to settle for $10,000, which the trial judge urged McDonald's to accept, but the company refused and the case went to trial. The plaintiff was awarded $2.7 million, and the judge reduced the amount, but the case was ultimately settled for an undisclosed figure.

In the last part of the book, Bogus draws on data regarding automobile design defects to make his point and provides a history of product liability law from the 1911 MacPherson v. Buick Motor Company case in which U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo stated that "we have put aside the notion that the duty to safeguard life and limb … grows out of contract and nothing else."

John L. Warden, who reviewed the volume in American Lawyer, asserted that this last section is "by far the most interesting part of Bogus's book," but he added that "it simply does not address issues that must be faced in judging the validity of the proposition that product liability lawsuits are 'good for America.' These issues include the social overhead costs—which are considerable—of modern product liability litigation, both in the form of lawyers' fees and expenses and in the form of such farces of our time as the breast implant cases."

American Prospect's Garrett Epps noted that Bogus cites surveys that reinforce his position, which is that trial judges tend to feel that most juries are reasonable in their decision making. "In addition," said Epps, "the common law provides no fewer than eight mechanisms by which judges can and often do intervene to prevent juries from going overboard, including the discretion to exclude prejudicial evidence, the power to split trials into separate phases so that liability can be decided before jurors hear of the terrible pain suffered by plaintiffs, the prerogative to instruct the jury in the law, the use of special verdicts to ensure that factual determinations are rational, the power to reduce jury awards, and the ability to order new trials when a jury reaches an absurd result."

Epps noted that Bogus "opposes George W. Bush-style tort 'reforms' such as caps on punitive damages and limits on the contingent-fee system that enables penniless plaintiffs to bring suit. He favors careful judicial use of procedural rules that 'discipline' the jury; but transferring its value-finding function to judges would violate his notions of democratic legitimacy."

Bogus told CA: "My primary influence in writing is to improve the law and public policy."



American Lawyer, January, 2002, John L. Warden, review of Why Lawsuits Are Good for America: Disciplined Democracy, Big Business, and the Common Law, p. 63.

American Prospect, July 30, 2001, Garrett Epps, review of Why Lawsuits Are Good for America, p. 39.

Choice, October, 2002, R. A. Carp, review of The Second Amendment in History: Historians and Constitutional Scholars on the Right to Bear Arms, p. 359.

Harvard Law Review, February, 2002, review of Why Lawsuits Are Good for America, p. 1273.

Library Journal, August, 2001, Mary Jane Brustman, review of Why Lawsuits Are Good for America, p. 135; January, 2002, Mary Jane Brustman, review of The Second Amendment in Law and History, p. 126.

New York Law Journal, November 16, 2001, Philip K. Howard, review of Why Lawsuits Are Good for America, p. 2.

Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2001, review of Why Lawsuits Are Good for America, p. 67; December 17, 2001, review of The Second Amendment in Law and History, p. 75.

Reason, August, 2002, Michael McMenamin, review of Why Lawsuits Are Good for America, p. 75.

Trial, November, 2001, review of Why Lawsuits are Good for America, pp. 88-89.

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