Climate Change Project

Table of Contents



Topics and Resources

(This will be continually updated.)

1. Criminal law and communicable disease control - taken.

There is an ongoing controversy over the criminal prosecution of persons with AIDS who engage in risky behavior and/or do not disclose their HIV status.

Are there other diseases where there have been criminal prosecutions?

2. Perinatal testing (testing of new born infants) - taken

Congenial illnesses (PKU, hypothyroidism, etc.)


What are the issues? Are there cases? Should parents be allowed to opt out of prenatal testing?

3. Prenatal testing - taken

Traditionally done for syphilis

Strongly recommended for HIV, but no (one?) state has required this.

What is the history and the rationale? What are the laws? Are there cases?

4. Vital statistics

Birth certificates, death certificates, disease registries. These provide the baseline for all epidemiology, but they are under attack. There are calls to require consent before reporting to a disease registry, and legal claims that these are public records:


What is the law, what are relevant cases, what are the policy issues?

5. Dangerous people - mental health - taken

While mental health law is not exactly public health law, the problem of the dangerous mentally ill is very much a public health issue. The hot issue today is "outpatient commitment" - court ordered directly observed treatment (DOT) to keep patients on their medications when they are not in mental institutions.

6. Dangerous people - tuberculosis - taken

What is the basic law on TB isolation? What is the legal framework for directly observed treatment (DOT) and how is this implemented? What are the legal and policy issues?

7. Public health reporting - what are the legal issues for reporters (people who do reporting)?

When can they be sued for making a report? Does a reporting law imply immunity? What about reports that are not based on a specific statute? (Include child abuse reporting because it generates most of the cases.) What about failures to report? (Not Tarasoff, but negligence per se type claims.)


8. Vaccinations - legal mandates

What are the legal issues and cases about mandatory vaccinations? What is the state of the law on religious objections? How do we decide what vaccines to mandate?


9. Vaccine law - liability (taken)

What is the history of vaccine liability and the current state of the law under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act? How is this law driving the autism claims?

10. Swine Flu (taken)

Prepare teaching materials on the Swine Flu experience and the subsequent litigation. What lessons does this have for pandemic flu decision making?

11. Food and water supplementation

We add trace elements and vitamins to many foods and to water. What is the law behind this, and have there been other controversies than just the fights on fluoridation of water? What is the fluoridation fight?

12. Suing the government - Levee law

Prepare teaching materials on levee law, i.e., the responsibility under the Flood Control Act of 1928 and 42 USC 1983 for levee failures. How does FEMA establish flood maps? Should we restrict rebuilding in flooded areas? What is the risk communication problem?


13. Suing the government - Qualified immunity under 42 USC 1983 for public health actions (taken)

What are the law and cases for qualified immunity for public health, as opposed to law enforcement actions?

14. Dangerous pets - dog law (taken)

This includes rabies control, the seizure and destruction of dangerous animals, and the injuries caused by dangerous animals. There is an administrative law angle on breed specific ordinances, and a good law review for background.

15. Tobacco control (taken)

Tobacco control is a partial public health success story. What is the legal side of tobacco control, including preemption of state actions, FDA regulation of tobacco, and the tobacco settlement.



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