Bear in mind the benefits


In the Law School’s packed lecture-room II Tuesday evening, Law Professor Douglas Lichtman pondered drug patents, Dunkin Donuts, a Gone with the Wind parody, and pet bears. He was presenting the 18th annual Coase Lecture, a public series established in honor of Nobel Prize winner and Clifton R. Musser professor emeritus of economics Ronald Coase, using such examples to illustrate that courts, when dictating litigants’ behavior before or during trial, should consider not only potential unjust and irreparable costs but also possible undeserved, irrevocable benefits. In the case of the bear, for example, Lichtman argued that if a court examined nonmonetary harms, such as a neighbor forced to live in fear of mauling, it should also take into account goods, such as the owner’s quality time with his or her ursine companion. As far as Lichtman is concerned, however, “the bear goes.”


Photo: Douglas Lichtman gives the Law School’s annual Coase Lecture (top). Afterward Lichtman chats with Ronald Coase, the lecture series’ namesake (bottom).

January 28, 2004