The American Museum of Tort Law, the nation’s first museum devoted to the legal system,
opens on September 26 in the Litchfield Hills town of Winsted, the home town of the museum’s
President, consumers advocate Ralph Nader.
After dedicating nearly half a century to battling businesses over issues such as dangerous
products, the 81-year-old Nader is spearheading the museum in a former downtown bank
building to celebrate the branch of law that offers relief to anyone who suffers injury from
wrongful acts of others, from careless drivers or neighbors to negligent corporations. The
nonprofit, educational institution hopes to make people aware of the pivotal role of tort law in
the protection of personal freedom and safety. And it will celebrate the historical and
contemporary achievements of the civil justice system.
According to museum director Richard L. Newman, former president of the Connecticut Trial
Lawyers Association, the new facility will include a timeline of the development of tort law and
a theater. Exhibits will tell in compelling fashion of cases large and small where tort law and the
right to trial by jury has protected individuals against wrongful injury. Two dramatic examples
are Liebeck vs McDonalds, a case concerning scalding coffee, and Cipollone v. Liggett, where
the plaintiff alleged that cigarette manufacturers knew — but did not warn consumers — that
smoking caused lung cancer and that cigarettes were addictive. The public will learn a lot more
than they generally know about these and other important issues, Newman promises.
Details of museum hours and events will be available on the web site www.tortmuseum.org.