Archive for January 14th, 2016

January 14, 2016

Cunningham’s Article on Dog Biting Statistics Relied on By West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

Associate Academic Dean Larry Cunningham’s research on dog bite statistics was cited favorably by

Larry Cunningham

Larry Cunningham

the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, the court of last resort in that state, in State v. Blatt, 774 S.E.2d 570 (2015).  Blatt overturned a lower court’s decision ordering the destruction of “Tinkerbell,” a pit bull terrier that bit a child.  The question in the case was whether pit bulls are “inherently vicious.”  In his 2005 article, Cunningham cited research from the CDC and other experts to conclude that there was no scientific basis for the belief that some breeds of dog, such as pit bulls, are inherently dangerous or are disproportionately responsible for fatal or non-fatal dog bites.  The court summarized Cunningham’s article, writing that it “describ[ed] in great detail how dog-bite statistics may not accurately present the nature of the dog bite problem because of how data is collected, what data is collected, and how data is analyzed.”  Cunningham’s article is entitled The Case Against Dog Breed Discrimination by Homeowners’ Insurance Companies and is published in volume 11 of the Connecticut Insurance Law Journal.

January 14, 2016

Baum’s Article on “Compassion Fatigue” Featured in ABA Children’s Rights Litigation Committee Newsletter

Professor Jennifer Baum’s new article, “Compassion Fatigue: Caveat Caregiver?” appears in the

Jennifer Baum

Jennifer Baum

winter edition of the ABA’s Children’s Rights Litigation Committee newsletter.

The article reports on a recent ABA teleconference examining “compassion fatigue,” a condition that can negatively impact lawyers and others working closely with traumatized individuals.  Studies show that so-called helping professionals who work day in and day out with victims of serious trauma can, over time, show changes in their ability to demonstrate compassion and care, and these workers can themselves also suffer from symptoms of PTSD, such as nightmares and desensitization.  As. Professor Baum notes, “research has shown that compassion fatigue leads to an increase in direct negative impacts on clients, including legal errors, client profiling, general disorganization, and conflict and toxicity in the workplace (“horizontal violence”), which in turn leads to decreased job performance.”   The article goes on to explain how to treat and reduce compassion fatigue, and improve representation for traumatized youth.

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