After compiling research on criminal prosecutions following non-terrorist disasters and tragedies, Fowler School of Law Professor Denis Binder decided to create a new website, www.denisbinder.com, to share his research with others. His interest in creating the site developed from his extensive career working in the area of dam failures. Launched in the fall of 2016, the website supplements his published articles by offering scholars, as well as the public, detailed and annually-updated information on incidents in the areas of disaster law, campus violence, and civil rights.
The website is a resource not only for academics but for businesses and governments to raise awareness about risks – both civil and criminal – prior to engaging in similar projects. In addition to the information he provides online, Professor Binder has presented his findings in the classroom and to scholars and businesses in the United States and abroad.
The Disasters portion of the site lists 200 cases of criminal prosecutions around the globe following non-terrorist disasters resulting in the loss of life. This list includes the 2015 Flint, Michigan water contamination; the collapse in 2013 of the Rana Plaza clothing factory building in Bangladesh; the 2005 BP refinery explosion; and even includes early disasters such as the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City, where 146 workers died. The information on disasters is the only broad collection of data identifying disasters and tragedies coupled with loss of life that resulted in criminal prosecutions.
The Campus Violence section of the website compiles instances of campus violence incidents in the United State while the Civil Rights section details Supreme Court civil rights decisions, excluding those involving voting rights and school integration.
Professor Binder’s career teaching Antitrust, Environmental Law, Torts and Toxic Torts at law schools nationwide spans 45 years. He has served as a consultant to a variety of organizations, ranging from the Army Corps of Engineers to Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. In September 1996, Professor Binder received the National Award of Merit from the Association of State Dam Safety Officials for his contributions to promoting dam safety over the preceding two decades. He graduated first in his class at the University of San Francisco School of Law and received his LL.M. and S.J.D. degrees from the University of Michigan Law School. Professor Binder previously served as president of the Chapman University Faculty Senate and as chair of the Environmental Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools.