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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




Janet Serra