Department of Economics

                                                                            University of Maryland


Law and Economics                                                                                               Professor Lawrence Ausubel

Economics 456                                                                                                                                      Spring 2001



            Preliminary Syllabus: Law and Economics




               Cooter, Robert and Thomas Ulen, Law and Economics, third edition, Addison-Wesley, 2000

               Course Packet (available from BSOS Copy Center)


Course Web Page:




Course Topics (each covers 1 to 4 lectures):


1.  Overview of the Legal System


               Cooter & Ulen, chapter 3

               [Optional]:  Review your standard micro text or Cooter & Ulen, chapter 2


               Cases to be discussed:

                              Butterfield v. Forrester (C&U pp. 66–67)

                              Davies v. Mann (C&U pp. 68–69)

                              Marquette National Bank v. First of Omaha Corp. (Course Packet #1)

                              Smiley v. Citibank (South Dakota), N.A. (Course Packet #2)


2.  Property


               Cooter & Ulen, chapter 4


3.  Cases and Topics in Property


               Cooter & Ulen, chapter 5


               Cases to be discussed:


               Traditional Property:

                              Boomer v. Atlantic Cement (C&U pp. 155–157)

                              Spur Industries (Course Packet #3)

                              Poletown (Course Packet #4)

                              Pennsylvania Coal (Course Packet #5)

                              Penn Central Transportation Co. (Course Packet #6)


               Intellectual Property:

                              State Street Bank & Trust Co. v. Signature Financial Group, Inc. (Online)

                                             * U.S. Court of Appeals Opinion, July 1998

                                             Earlier U.S. District Court Opinion, March 1996

                                             U.S. Supreme Court, cert. denied

                                             Signature Financial Group Patent No. 5,193,056


                              AT&T Corp. v. Excel Communications, Inc. (Online)

                                             * U.S. Court of Appeals Opinion, April 1999


                              Well-Known e-Commerce Patents (Online)

                                             * Patent No. 5,960,411

                                             * Patent No. 5,794,207


                              Examination Guidelines for Computer-Implemented Inventions (Course Packet #7)

                              Training Materials for Examination Guidelines for Computer-Implemented Inventions

                              Blue Mountain Arts (Course Packet #8)


               & see the Property Clip File (Course Packet #9)


4.  Torts


               Cooter & Ulen, chapter 8


5.  Cases and Topics in Torts (Product Liability and Punitive Damages)


               Cooter & Ulen, chapter 9


               Cases to be discussed:

                              A.H. Robins & the Dalkon Shield (Course Packet #10)

                              The Ford Pinto Case (Course Packet #11)

                              The Tobacco Liability Cases (Course Packet #12)

                              BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore (Course Packet #13)

                              & see the Liability Clip File (Course Packet #14)


6.  Topics in Legal Procedure and Liability Reform


               Cooter & Ulen, chapter 10


               Cases to be discussed:

                              Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals (Course Packet #15)

                              General Electric Co. v. Joiner (Course Packet #16)

                              Auctioning Class Actions (In re Auction Houses Antitrust Litigation, 2000)


7.  Contracts


               Cooter & Ulen, chapter 6


8.  Cases and Topics in Contracts and Consumer Protection


               Cooter & Ulen, chapter 7


               Cases to be discussed:

                              Alaska Packers' Assn. v. Domenico (Course Packet #17)

                              Austin Instruments v. Loral (Course Packet #18)

                              Opera Co. of Boston v. Wolf Trap (Course Packet #19)

                              Pennzoil v. Texaco (Course Packet #20)

                              Walker-Thomas Furniture (Course Packet #21 and C&U pp. 280–283)

                              Shearson/American Express (Course Packet #22)


9.  Insider Trading


               Notes on Insider Trading (Course Packet #23)

               Posner and Scott, Insider Trading (to be distributed in class or placed on library reserve)

               Ausubel, “Insider Trading in a Rational Expectations Economy” (Course Packet #24)

               Chiarella and Subsequent Cases (Course Packet #25)

               Insider Trading/Financial Fraud Clip File (Course Packet #26)


10.  Bankruptcy


               Report of the National Bankruptcy Review Commission (Course Packet #27)

               Ausubel, “Credit Card Defaults, Credit Card Profits, and Bankruptcy” (Course Packet #28)



Additional Details:


1.            Professor Lawrence Ausubel

               Office:  Room 4128A, Tydings Hall

               Office Hours:  Wednesdays, 11:00 am 12:00 noon and 2:00 pm 3:00 pm (except Feb. 7)


2.            Course requirements:


a.     Assigned reading (before class).


b.     One or two take‑home assignments (30% of written grade).  These will be relatively fun assignments which are preferably done as group projects (of up to four people), and which require you to apply economic analysis to a specific area of the law.


c.     Midterm examination (30% of written grade).


d.     Final Examination (40% of written grade).


e.      Classroom Participation (Superior classroom participation may bump you up as much as one letter grade).