Slippery slope of litigation

Cynthia Lawry-Berkins
Blinn College
Author Profile

Summary

Case study on mass wasting

This case, based on a lawsuit brought against the County of Los Angeles by homeowners suing over damage to their homes in the wake of the Portuguese Bend Landslide, teaches students principles of landslide movement while illustrating the difficulties involved with litigation resulting from natural hazards. Students first read a fictitious newspaper article (based on the actual events), then receive details about the geologic setting and landslide characteristics. With this information, the students are then asked to evaluate the possible causes of the disaster. The case was developed for use in a non-majors' introductory course in environmental geology.

Learning Goals

Keywords: Landslide; natural disasters; hazard mitigation; Portuguese Bend; Long Beach; California; Palos Verdes Peninsula; West Coast; litigation
Topical Area: Legal issues
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division

Context for Use

The Slippery Slope of Litigating Geologic Hazards

California's Portuguese Bend Landslide



Author:
David L. Ozsvath
Department of Geography/Geology
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
dozsvath@uwsp.edu

Abstract:
This case, based on a lawsuit brought against the County of Los Angeles by homeowners suing over damage to their homes in the wake of the Portuguese Bend Landslide, teaches students principles of landslide movement while illustrating the difficulties involved with litigation resulting from natural hazards. Students first read a fictitious newspaper article (based on the actual events), then receive details about the geologic setting and landslide characteristics. With this information, the students are then asked to evaluate the possible causes of the disaster. The case was developed for use in a non-majors' introductory course in environmental geology.

Objectives:
To utilize active, small-group learning within a science course.
To introduce the idea that "real world" problems can have more than one possible answer.
To teach some principles of landslide movement through use of an actual case history.
To illustrate the difficulties involved with litigation resulting from natural hazards.

Description and Teaching Materials

Type/Method: Discussion
Language: English
Subject Headings: Geology Natural Hazards Earth Science
Date Posted: 10/09/99
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Assessment

judges decision on case study finding

References and Resources

NATIONAL CENTER FOR CASE STUDY TEACHING IN SCIENCE