An unintended consequence of Tort Reform may be less safe or imaginative playgrounds. This is one of the conclusions in an article by Benjamin Barton in the Florida Law Review entitled Tort Reform, Innovation, and Playground Design. When confronted by potential product liability it seems that entrepreneurial companies do not simply patch failed products. In many instances they fully rethink and redesign them. Therefore, product liability law can actually spur innovation. Playground design and products are one of the most obvious examples of significant improvement and innovation occurring precisely because of tort actions or concern about tort liability.
From an Abstract of the law review article:
This essay directly confronts a key claim underlying calls for tort reform: that current product liability law negatively impacts innovation. It begins by outlining the current state of the product liability/innovation debate, and details the arguments and empirical evidence for and against a negative correlation. The essay then argues that when confronted by potential product liability entrepreneurial companies do not simply patch failed products, they fully rethink and redesign them. As such, product liability can actually spur innovation.
The essay argues that product liability law and heightened safety concerns have actually resulted in a quality revolution in public playgrounds. We have eliminated the stark and joyless concrete and steel “traditional” playground in favor of new playgrounds that are not only safer, but vastly superior on every count: more fun, more interactive, and more gauged towards play.