Ralph Nader’s long-awaited Tort Museum project may have finally found its home. According to the County Times, Nader has bought a former bank building on his hometown of Winsted, Connecticut’s Main Street, after Winsted Savings merged with Northwest Community Bank. Winsted Savings will be evacuating the premises sometime this fall and then maybe, just maybe, Nader’s Tort Museum plan will finally come into fruition.
Nader first expressed interest in creating a museum dedicated to the liabilities of wrong doings over 10 years ago, proposing exhibits that highlighted faulty products such as the Ford Pinto and untreated flammable pajamas, but was met with some skepticism. A 1998 New York Times article wondered, “Would it be able to serve hot coffee in a museum cafe for fear of scalding customers’ mouths? Should display cases be built without sharp corners that could accidentally cut frisky children? And will lawyers whose work is portrayed in a less-than-flattering light sue for defamation?”
As the subject of tort law has recurred throughout Nader’s career, it comes as no surprise that he is still committed — despite the funding challenges and varying possible locations — to seeing the museum project through.
However, his insistence on Winsted as the location may make people concerned about its long-term viability. Development in the former factory town was already slumping in 2006, Legal Affairs reported. “Winsted is an old mill town turned bedroom community, about two and a half hours northeast of New York City,” the magazine noted. “Though on the outskirts of the Berkshires, it’s not a vacation destination, and the museum cannot count on much traffic from tourists strolling its quiet, leafy streets. Still, Nader and his associates believe that people will come because, well, they should.”
— Meredith Caraher