Distinguished Canadian Jurist and Renowned Torts Scholar Allen Linden Reveals the Nuances of Negligence
Before this semester, Allen M. Linden, Pepperdine's Distinguished Visiting Jurist, had not taught a first-year torts class in 31 years. Linden, one of the world's leading comparative tort law scholars, had taught countless Advanced Torts classes, including one for the last 10 years at Pepperdine. Indeed, he was a law professor for more than 20 years before ascending to bench in Canada, where he served as a judge for more than 30 years.
Getting back in the saddle teaching first-year torts has been nothing but a pleasure for Linden. "It's really a joy," he says of his young class. "These young people are so bright and ambitious. These are students who fought for good grades in undergrad, and they really want to be lawyers."
Despite his towering legal career, he was once very much like his bright first-years. The judge wasn't born into a privileged family. His parents escaped from Poland in 1921 and settled in an immigrant area in Toronto, Canada. The Lindens worked relentlessly in order to send Allen and his brother to college and to law school. Their work paid off as both he and his brother became judges in their adopted country.
Linden earned several advanced degrees: a BA from the University of Toronto in 1956 and an LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1960, where he led the class. He continued his education at University of California, Berkeley, receiving an LLM and a JSD.
In school, Linden was drawn to the law of torts. He had the opportunity to learn from torts giants such as William Lloyd Prosser and John G. Fleming, and he enjoyed learning about foundational torts cases. He cites Donoghue v. Stevenson as one of his favorites to dissect. The 1932 case involved a woman named May Donoghue who drank a bottle of soda with a decomposed snail inside. Donoghue sued David Stevenson, the manufacturer of the soda, and claimed 500 pounds as damages for her injuries.
"Donoghue v. Stevenson is the heart of modern commonwealth negligence law," says Linden. "The case drew from the Christian and Jewish principles of looking after your neighbor. Lawyers interpret that as 'do not injure your neighbor.' This became the undercurrent of all negligence law, including U.S. law indirectly."
Linden has written prolifically on the law of torts and has developed a well-earned reputation as the "Prosser of Canada." Many of his books are still required for Canadian law students. His publications include his treatise Canadian Tort Law, 8th ed. (Butterworths, 2006) (with Bruce Feldthusen) and his casebook The Law of Torts: Cases, Notes and Materials, 13th ed. (Butterworths, 2009) (with Lewis Klar and Bruce Feldthusen). He has had numerous articles appearing in publications such as: the Canadian Bar Review, the Canadian Bar Journal, the Osgoode Hall Law Journal, the Law Society Gazette, the Alberta Law Journal, the Modern Law Review, the California Law Review, Tort Law Review, the American Journal of Comparative Law, Suffolk University Law Review, Catholic University Law Review, and Pepperdine University Law Review.
Linden was associated with the firm Levinter, Grossberg, Dryden & Co., from 1958-1961. He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1974. He was appointed judge of the Supreme Court of Ontario in 1978 and judge of the Federal Court of Canada, Appeal Division, in July 1990. He was appointed judge of the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada in 1991, and just this October, he stepped down after serving as a supernumerary judge since 2000.
In his more than 30 years as a judge, Linden dispensed justice in countless cases. His decisions have been cited not only in Canadian courts but also in England's House of Lords. In 2005, Linden's distinguished career was honored with the John G. Fleming Award in Torts, an international award created in 1997 following the death of torts scholar Fleming, who wrote the most influential treatise on torts.
At the end of the day, Linden's true passion is teaching. "I love to teach. Even as a judge, I taught seminars at my alma mater," he says. In addition to teaching Advanced Torts at Pepperdine for more than a decade, Linden has been a visiting professor at UC Berkeley, British Columbia, Melbourne and Monash (Australia), and a visiting fellow at Oxford University's Institute of Socio-Legal Studies.
He estimates that he has taught several thousand law students the law of torts, and at least one hundred of those students have gone on to be judges.
"Reflecting on my career, it is the young people I have helped, the ones who have gone forth to serve their communities, provinces, and the world," Linden explains. "They are the accomplishment of which I am most proud."
Rick Cupp, professor of law, calls Linden Canada's William Prosser, and then some. "Not only is he is the nation's most distinguished torts scholar, he is also one of its most distinguished judges," says Cupp. "If this were not enough, he has a deeper understanding of United States torts issues than do most torts professors in our nation. Justice Linden's breadth reflects his intense intellectual curiosity and abilities, and his exceptional enthusiasm for tort law's potential as a force for good."
by Emily DiFrisco