Professor Jena Martin Rewrites Dodge v. Ford Motor Company for U.S. Feminist Judgments Project

West Virginia University College of Law professor Jena Martin contributed to the most recent volume published by the U.S. Feminist Judgments Project by rewriting Dodge v. Ford Motor Company in Feminist Judgments: Corporate Law Rewritten.

From the summary:

The plaintiffs, John and Horace Dodge, owned a ten percent share in the defendant’s, Ford Motor Company (FMC), corporation. The Dodge brothers had recently started their own car company, but the Dodge Brothers retained interest in FMC, which had paid hefty dividends. Henry Ford very publicly decided to stop paying dividends to investors and to build a new plant in River Rouge, Michigan, which would drive competition for lower priced vehicles. The Dodge brothers filed this suit in response. The case highlights the debate over the fundamental purpose of business: investor benefit or societal benefit. Through the lens of feminist theory, Ford’s approach would promote both the financial interests of FMC and the equitable access to private transportation to the betterment of society. By withholding dividends, FMC could maintain a cash reserve in times of financial adversity; meanwhile, by driving down the price of cars, private transportation could be more widely available to even the most marginalized groups who were more likely to experience harassment on public transportation. The feminist perspective argues that the notion that a corporation’s only purpose being to immediately maximize profits for the sake of stockholders is too narrow a view.

The U.S. Feminist Judgments Project is a collaborative effort of more than 100 feminist law professors to rewrite U.S. legal decisions from a feminist perspective. They have produced a series of volumes of rewritten opinions in the area tax, torts, corporations, trusts and estates, employment discrimination, family law, and reproductive justice. Feminist Judgments: Corporate Law Rewritten was edited by Anne M. Choike, Michigan State University, Usha R. Rodrigues, University of Georgia School of Law, Kelli Alces Williams, Florida State University and was published online in early 2023.

Find more of Professor Martin's scholarship on SSRN and her SelectedWorks Scholarship profile.

A headshot of Professor Jena Martin