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Remembering James A. Henderson Jr.

Renowned scholar, teacher, and mentor James A. Henderson Jr., the Frank B. Ingersoll Professor of Law Emeritus, died July 2 at the age of 81. A Cornell Law faculty member for 29 years, Henderson was considered a giant in tort law and products liability.

“Although he retired not long after my arrival at Cornell, I remember Jim as a warm and generous colleague who took the time to read and comment on my work even as he was preparing to move south,” said Eduardo M. Peñalver, the Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law.

Henderson made a lasting mark on the law as a co-reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement of the Law Third, Torts: Products Liability (1998) and as a special master in the 9/11 World Trade Center responder’s litigation, the most complex mass-tort litigation in American history. Apart from sabbaticals, Henderson taught torts at Cornell Law every year since 1984, along with courses in products liability, insurance, and legal process. He testified numerous times before state legislatures and congressional committees, and published seventy articles and three case books that became standard texts at law schools around the country. After retiring in 2013, Henderson continued his scholarship, averaging two publications per year since 2015. His most recent article came out in the Florida Law Review this past January.

“When I was first teaching torts [more than thirty] years ago, Jim was enormously generous with his time and insights,” said Stewart Schwab, the Jonathan and Ruby Zhu Professor of Law and former dean. “He was the best creator of hypotheticals, and I incorporated so much of his thinking into my own that I no longer know what is Jim’s and what is mine.”

At his family’s request, Henderson will be remembered at a memorial service to be held on campus in the fall of 2019, with the time and place to be determined.

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