Donald Gifford

Distinguished University Professor and Jacob A. France Professor of Torts




(410) 706-1843


(410) 706-0407

Photo of Donald Gifford


  • BA, 1973, College of Wooster
  • JD, 1976, Harvard University

Donald G. Gifford, the Jacob A. France Professor of Torts and former dean at the law school, was recognized by the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) with the title of Distinguished University Professor in 2023. The designation is the highest appointment bestowed on a faculty member at UMB. Gifford’s teaching and research interests include Torts, Products Liability, Advanced Torts, and Legal Negotiation.


Professor Gifford is the author or co-author of five books, including both a torts casebook and a legal negotiation text, and numerous articles. Many of these articles focus on the challenges posed by mass product torts, but others address topics including technological change and tort law, how race affects the substantive law of torts, the failure of constitutional originalism in the history of torts, climate change litigation, an empirical study of factors affecting medical malpractice insurance, and the surprising persistence of contributory negligence as a total bar to recover under Maryland law. Professor Gifford and a co-editor prepare quarterly supplements to Harper, James, and Gray on the Law of Torts, the definitive five-volume torts treatise. His book, Suing the Tobacco and Lead Pigment Industries, features a critical analysis of government tort litigation against manufacturers of products that cause public health problems such as cigarettes and lead pigment. 


Professor Gifford was dean of the University of Maryland School of Law from 1992 through 1999. He initiated the efforts to build the current law school building, obtained the legislative approval and funding for the building, raised most of the private contributions for it, and saw the building project through its initial architectural design phases. Under his leadership, the level of private giving to the law school quadrupled.  He served in important national leadership positions among law school deans, as both co-chair of the American Bar Association Deans’ Workshops in 1995 and 1996 and as co-chair of the ABA Law School Development Conference in 2001.


Professor Gifford served as chair of the Maryland Lead Paint Poisoning Commission from 1992 until 1995, and in that role was a principal architect of Maryland’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Act. Later, he promoted legislation designed to eliminate or reduce childhood lead poisoning in ten other states and in the United States Congress working with, among others, then Illinois-State Senator Barack Obama and then U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton. He is a member of the American Law Institute.


Before coming to Maryland, Professor Gifford was the dean of the West Virginia University College of Law and earlier a professor at the University of Florida and the University of Toledo. His students at Florida twice recognized Professor Gifford with awards for outstanding teaching. While at Florida, he worked with the Florida legislature on issues of tort and insurance reform and was the principal draftsman of the Medical Incident Recovery Act of 1988. Professor Gifford, a native of rural Ohio, is a graduate of the College of Wooster, where he was valedictorian, and a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School.



Harper, James and Gray on Torts (Supp. 2019) (with Oscar Gray).

Legal Negotiation: Theory and Practice (3d ed. 2017) (with Robert J. Rhee). Abstract

Harper, James & Gray on Torts (Supp. 2017) (with Oscar Gray).

Get a Running Start: A Comprehensive Guide to the First Year Curriculum (2016) (with others). Abstract

Cases and Materials on the Law of Torts (6th ed. 2015) (with Oscar S. Gray).

Suing the Tobacco and Lead Pigment Industries: Government Litigation as Public Health Prescription (2010). Abstract

Cases and Materials on the Law of Torts (4th ed. 2003; 5th ed. 2010) (with Oscar S. Gray and others). Abstract

Legal Negotiation: Theory and Applications (1989; 2d ed. 2007). Abstract

A Comparative Study of Liability Law and Compensation Schemes in Ten Countries and the United States (co-editor and contributing author, 1992). Abstract

Book Chapters

Torts, in American Governance (Stephen L. Schechter ed., 2016).

Tort Reform as a Two-Way Street, in Andrew F. Popper, Tort Reform: Commentary and Other Materials (2010).

Tort, in The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (2d ed. 2004).


The Torts Sage as Mentor and Friend: In Memory of Oscar Gray, 79 Maryland Law Review 1151 (2020).

Rescuing Tort Law: A Tribute to Judge Sally Adkins, 78 Maryland Law Review 671 (2019). Abstract

How Could Anyone "Roast" Jana? A Tribute to My Colleague Jana Singer, 78 Maryland Law Review 696 (2019).

Technological Triggers to Tort Revolutions: Steam Locomotives, Autonomous Vehicles, and Accident Compensation, 11 Journal of Tort Law 71 (2018). Abstract

Keeping Cases from Black Juries: An Empirical Analysis of How Race, Income Equality, and Regional History Affect Tort Law, 73 Washington & Lee Law Review 557 (2016). Abstract

Apportioning Liability in Maryland Tort Cases: Time to End Contributory Negligence and Joint and Several Liability, 73 Maryland Law Review 701 (2014) (with Christopher J. Robinette). Abstract

What's on First? Organizing the Casebook and Molding the Mind, 45 Arizona State Law Journal 97 (2013) (with Joseph L. Kroart III, Brian Jones, and Cheryl Cortemeglia). Abstract

The Death of the Common Law: Judicial Abdication and Contributory Negligence in Maryland, 74 Maryland Law Review Endnotes 1 (2013). Abstract

The Supreme Court, CAFA, and Parens Patriae Actions: Will it be Principles or Biases?, 92 North Carolina Law Review Addendum 1 (2013) (with William L. Reynolds). Abstract

A Case Study in the Superiority of the Purposive Approach to Statutory Interpretation: Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, 64 South Carolina Law Review 221 (2012) (with William L. Reynolds II and Andrew M. Murad). Abstract

The Constitutional Bounding of Adjudication: A Fuller(ian) Explanation for the Supreme Court's Mass Tort Jurisprudence, 44 Arizona State Law Journal 1109 (2012). Abstract

Climate Change and the Public Law Model of Torts: Reinvigorating Judicial Restraint Doctrines, 92 South Carolina Law Review 201 (2011). Abstract

Impersonating the Legislature: State Attorneys General and Parens Patriae Product Litigation, 49 Boston College Law Review 913 (2008). Abstract

The Peculiar Challenges Posed By Latent Diseases Resulting From Mass Products, 64 Maryland Law Review 613 (2005). Abstract

The Challenge to the Individual Causation Requirement in Mass Products Torts, 62 Washington & Lee Law Review 873 (2005). Abstract

Public Nuisance as a Mass Products Tort, 71 University of Cincinnati Law Review 741 (2003), translated and reprinted in 7 Beijing Law Review 318 (trans. by Chen Xin). Abstract

How Does the Dean Resemble the Islets of Langerhans?, 31 University of Toledo Law Review 599 (2000). Abstract

What are Professional Skills and Why Should Law Schools Teach Them?, 19 New Mexico Law Review 14 (1989). Abstract

The Myth of the Insurance Claims Explosion, 41 Vanderbilt Law Review 909 (1988) (with David J. Nye). Abstract

The Causes of the Medical Malpractice Crisis: An Analysis of Claims Data and Insurance Company Finances, 76 Georgetown Law Journal 1459 (1988) (with others). Abstract

The Synthesis of Legal Counseling and Negotiation Models: Preserving Client-Centered Advocacy in the Negotiation Context, 34 UCLA Law Review 811 (1987). Abstract

Litigation Trends in Florida: Saga of a Growth State, 39 University of Florida Law Review 829 (1987) (with D. Nye). Abstract

A Context-Based Theory of Strategy Selection in Legal Negotiation, 46 Ohio State Law Journal 43 (1985). Abstract

A Constitutional Analysis of Ohio’s New Drunk Driving Law, 15 University of Toledo Law Review 133 (1983) (with Howard Friedman). Abstract

Meaningful Reform of Plea Bargaining: The Control of Prosecutorial Discretion, 1983 University of Illinois Law Review 37. Abstract

Equal Protection and the Prosecutor's Charging Decision: Enforcing an Ideal, 49 George Washington Law Review 659 (1981). Abstract