October 12, 2010
Supreme Court to Consider Vaccine Case
Barry Meier of the NYTimes reports. The issue is whether the plaintiff can bring products liability suits or whether they must bring the suit only in the vaccine court, created by the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.
This case concerns a woman who suffered seizures as a result of a DPT vaccine administered when she was a baby and has resultant developmental problems. But there are many parents of children with autism who believe there is a link between vaccines and autism and would like to bring their cases outside of the adminsitrative system set up by the Act.
Thomas Burke, a political scientist at Wellesley College, has written on this topic. Click here for his website.
October 11, 2010
Verdict Reduced and Lawyer Sanctioned in Fosomax Bellwether Trial
Southern District of NY Judge John F. Keenan reduced the verdict from 8 million to 1.5 million dollars. He also sanctioned the lawyer 2,500 dollars for referencing another Fosomax trial when explicitly told not to do so by the judge.
I think we need to open up (or reopen) the question of what juries in bellwether cases ought to know about other cases, the range of verdicts that this "type" of case usually gets, and other information that will help them reach decisions. For more on why this might be a good idea see my newest piece, Rough Justice.
October 10, 2010
On the Recent Passing of Richard Nagareda
I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Richard Nagareda, a remarkable scholar and professor and a titan in the field of mass tort litigation. I first encountered Richard's far-reaching mind when poring over his thorough and intricately reasoned scholarship on class actions. See, e.g., Richard A. Nagareda, The Preexistence Principle and the Structure of the Class Action, 103 Colum. L. Rev. 149 (2003); Richard A. Nagareda, Autonomy, Peace, and Put Options in the Mass Tort Class Action, 115 Harv. L. Rev. 747 (2002). His vast scholarly output lead to his magnum opus, Mass Torts in a World of Settlement (U. Chicago Press 2007), a sweeping assessment of the problems and possible solutions for mass torts -- including importing concepts from administrative law and using innovative attorney-fee arrangements to incentivize attorneys to care for future claimants.
In 2008, I had the good fortune to be able to invite Richard to speak at an asbestos symposium at Southwestern Law School, meet him at a pre-symposium dinner, and hear him speak about mass torts -- he was thoughtful, good-spirited, polite, and intellectually curious; here are the transcripts from the symposium, including Richard's remarks. Richard's students were no doubt greatly enriched by his teaching, for which Vanderbilt bestowed on him Awards for Excellence in Teaching in 2002, 2009, and 2010; they were also likely made comfortable seeking guidance in his office, for in contrast to the seriousness and rigor of scholarship, he decorated his office with plastic figures from The Simpsons cartoon show, including a chessboard with Simpsons pieces. See Vanderbilt "A Day in the Life of ... Richard Nagareda." We here at the Mass Tort Litigation Blog also benefitted from Richard's periodic suggestions about new developments to think about, and we were delighted to post an interview with Richard that was sent to us from Rodger Citron of Touro Law Center. In recent years, Richard was active as the Director of Vanderbilt's Cecil D. Branstetter Litigation & Dispute Resolution Program, and served as an Associate Reporter of the American Law Institute's influential Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation. Richard also continued to publish widely -- indeed, his curriculum vitae lists four forthcoming works. It is hard to accept the dimming of a star in what one assumes is an unchanging firmament, especially given Richard's relative youth at age 47. He will be greatly missed.
A Tribute to Richard Nagareda: 1963-2010
I was deeply saddened to learn that Richard Nagareda (Vanderbilt) passed away this past Friday. Although I won't repeat what Howard Erichson has already posted, I wanted to write separately to express what a truly wonderful friend and mentor Richard has been to me and to many other junior scholars in the field. Despite his constantly packed schedule, he always made time to read and comment on my work and would inevitably send the most detailed and thoughtful comments that one could ever hope for. I remember having dinner with him this past June during the AALS Civil Procedure Mid-Year Meeting and telling him how amazed I was that, five years ago when I'd just entered the academy, he'd taken the time to respond to my timid e-mail introducing myself. As someone who had read his work for years, I was even more amazed that he took the time to read mine and offer his insights.
It's an honor to have known Richard; he's touched the lives of so many. He was a powerhouse in the field and in the classroom. He is truly beloved. We will miss him dearly.
Prof. Richard Nagareda (1963-2010)
We are deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and colleague Richard Nagareda, who passed away on Friday. Richard was a true leader in the field whose work changed the way we think about mass tort litigation. In his book, Mass Torts in a World of Settlement, his casebook, The Law of Class Actions and Other Aggregate Litigation, and a series of important articles on class actions, mass torts and related problems, Richard offered a vision of mass litigation as a problem of governance and administration. He served as associate reporter for the American Law Institute's Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation. As Director of the Branstetter Litigation and Dispute Resolution Program at Vanderbilt, he ran one of the nation's finest academic programs on litigation. I had the pleasure of teaching a number of his students when I taught short courses at Vanderbilt, and I know how much his students admired him and how much they learned from him, as did all of us in the field.
Here's the announcement from the Vanderbilt Law School website:
Richard Nagareda, the David Daniels Allen Professor of Law and Director of the Cecil D. Branstetter Litigation and Dispute Resolution Program, died suddenly at his home on Friday, October 8.
Memorial arrangements are pending.
“Richard was a personal friend as well as an esteemed colleague, and those of us who were fortunate enough to know him and work with him for the past several years are devastated by his death,” Dean Chris Guthrie said. “The legal academy has lost a gifted scholar, and our students an extremely talented teacher. Our faculty members have lost a good friend and exemplary colleague, and his family a beloved husband, father and son."
Professor Nagareda is survived by his wife, his son and his mother.
Those of us in the field of complex litigation will always have the insights Richard gave us, but we wish we could look forward to his next work, we will miss his voice at meetings and conferences, and we will miss him as a friend.