Damage Suits: Who Pays for Riots?

As violence flares in U.S. ghettos, legal questions smolder in the embers: If the state is obliged to maintain civil order, must it indemnify the citizen for property loss and personal injury from riots?

There is no generally accepted answer in U.S. law. Since 1883, when the Supreme Court ruled in Louisiana ex rel. Folsom v. New Orleans that legislatures created and therefore may withdraw or modify the right to riot relief, the question of liability has been bounced around by the states, cities and counties.

Meanwhile, insured claims for the Detroit riot...

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