William E. Westerbeke

Professor Emeritus of Law
Primary office:


William Westerbeke joined the KU Law faculty in 1975 after graduation from Stanford Law School, service as a law clerk in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, and private practice in Los Angeles. His teaching research emphasis has been on tort law, including the law of product liability. A dedicated teacher known for his accessibility to students, he received the Dean Frederick J. Moreau Award for Student Counseling in 1987, the Immel Award for Teaching Excellence in 1987, the Robert A. Schroeder Teaching Fellowship (2001-04) and a William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 2006. He was named a Dean James Green Fellow (1996-99) in recognition of his service to the law school. He retired from teaching in December 2016.


J.D., Stanford, 1970, Stanford Law Review; M.A., Middlebury College, 1968; B.A., Bowdoin College, 1964


Insurance, Products Liability, Torts, Workers' Compensation


California 1971

Career History

Clerk, Hon. Irving Hill, U.S. District Court, Central District California 1970-71; Associate, O’Melveny & Meyers, California 1971-75; Associate Professor, Kansas 1975-80; Professor, 1980-present; Visiting Professor, University of Vienna, Spring 1990.


Tort law, product liability


Order of the Coif; Civil Code Advisory Commission, Kansas Judicial Council 1984-89

Selected Publications

  • "The Immunity Provisions in the Kansas Tort Claims Act: The First Twenty-Five Years," 52 Kansas Law Review 939 (2004)
  • "Survey of Kansas Tort Law: Part II," 50 Kansas Law Review 225 (2002)
  • "Survey of Kansas Tort Law: Part I," 49 Kansas Law Review 1037 (with McAllister, 2001)
  • "The Application of Comparative Responsibility to Intentional Tortfeasors and Immune Parties," 10 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy 65 (1998)
  • "The Reasonable Alternative Design Requirement," 8 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy 65 (1998)
  • "The Sources of Controversy in the New Restatement of Products Liability: Strict Liability Versus Products Liability," 8 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy 1 (1998)
  • "Strict Products Liability for Misrepresentation," 20 Journal of the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association 20 (1997)
  • "Tort Law" in Kansas Bar Association Annual Survey of Developments in Kansas Law (1994-2004)
  • "Kansas Product Liability: Joint and Several Liability in the Chain of Supply and Distribution," 14 Kansas Trial Lawyers Journal 21 (1991)