Tort Liability and Ethics for Public Agencies

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Course Number: V03G

This course will treat a central question that remains always before us as we make choices on both a personal and professional level - a question that society demands that we ask ourselves individually. It is the question that society will use in judging our actions and the resulting consequences. This question, which can be styled in many different ways with the same effect is, "What good thing must I do?" From a legal perspective, this question is styled as a negative, advising us to "Do no wrong." The legal term "tort" means "wrongful act." Guided by this perspective, lawyers advise us to do no "good" by describing what past juries have found to be wrong. Ethicists offer a different styling of the "what good thing must I do?" question, suggesting "good" is relative to a chosen perspective. In fact, many ethicists would challenge other's right to judge if using a different perspective. However, we do share a common "perspective," a "common law." Our society's founding principles set this "shared" perspective for all of us either through choice for most or by mandate for the rest. In this course, you will be taught how two seemingly divergent perspectives are really part of the same system, a layered system. At one level, this system deals with shared, common values central to answering the question "What good thing must I do?" At a different level, this system deals with the law, which is the mechanism to deal with those choosing to disregard these values. In doing this, you will look "under the hood" of our system starting with the legal and ethical heritage that has shaped our culture and society. Based on this criteria, you will evaluate current legal perspectives to determine which works best for you. Presupposing that a straightforward perspective serves best, you will explore whether or not it leads to the right legal conclusions. Finally, you will see this straightforward approach illustrated as we work through a "risk management" program dealing with highways, roads, and bridges. Who should take the course? Engineers, managers, and maintenance professionals all make choices in responding to this "What good thing must I do?" question. We must make choices capable of being judged by society as evidenced by a jury's verdict of "right," or at least not "wrong."

Course Instructor:
Dr. Larry Crowley

Course Length: 5 Hours, ( 0. 5CEUs or 5PDHs or 5CPCs )

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