This coming January, in honor of a lifetime of accomplishment, James A. Henderson Jr., the Frank B. Ingersoll Professor of Law Emeritus, will receive the William L. Prosser Award at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. Named after the author of Prosser on Torts, it’s the highest distinction the AALS presents to torts professors, formally recognizing Henderson’s “truly outstanding and brilliant achievements in the field of tort law, in terms of scholarship, teaching, and service.”
Since arriving at the Law School in 1984, after teaching and practicing in Boston for twenty years, Henderson has been a leading commentator in torts and products liability. Best known as a co-reporter on Restatement (Third) of Torts: Products Liability, and a co-author of three widely used texts–The Torts Process; Products Liability: Problems and Process; and Torts: Cases and Materials–Henderson continues to serve as a special master in the 9/11 first responders’ lawsuits, the most complex mass-tort litigation in American history.
“James Henderson is one of the giants of contemporary torts scholars,” says Stewart J. Schwab, the Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law. “His work adopts a pragmatic approach in the great legal-process tradition, but has blended many methodologies for understanding tort law, from traditional doctrinal work to law and economics to empirical approaches. Measured, principled approaches such as Professor Henderson’s are rare and invaluable.”
Newly retired from teaching, Henderson is currently working on a pair of articles, “Justiciability and Rule Formality in Judicial Review” and “Filling the Empty Shell of Failure to Warn,” to be delivered later this year. He remains excited by the possibility of solving “problems that sometimes seem to defy resolution,” comfortable in the balance he’s found between scholarship and practice, and pleased to hear about this latest honor.
"You do the best you can, and hope the work speaks for itself," says Henderson, talking from his home in Florida. “If I’ve had an impact–and I want to emphasize that if–it’s because the work has had a much broader application than just the subjects I’ve written about.”