September 3, 2011
Book on Vioxx by Snigdha Prakash
Snigdha Prakash has written an interesting book on the Vioxx litigation, "All the Justice Money Can Buy: Corporate Greed on Trial." The book follows the early course of the Vioxx litigation and then turns its attention to the Humeston/Hermans trial, during which Prakash was embedded with Mark Lanier and his trial team. Dramatic and well-written, and not shy about taking sides, the book is a great read and offers a rare inside look at the functioning of a trial team and the tensions that can arise among plaintiffs' lawyers in mass tort litigation.
September 1, 2011
Conference Preview: Mass Torts and the Federal Courts
Sheila Scheuerman (Charleston School of Law and Torts Prof Blog) is putting together what sounds like an exciting conference on mass torts:
The Federal Courts Law Review at the Charleston School of Law is sponsoring a symposium on "Mass Torts in the Federal Courts" on February 24, 2012, in Charleston. Ken Feinberg will be giving the keynote address. Panels will address the lessons of Wal-Mart v. Dukes for mass torts, the current issues surrounding preemption in mass tort cases, and a look at the ethical issues in mass tort litigation. Registration is not yet open, but if you would like additional information about either conference, contact Associate Professor Sheila B. Scheuerman at sscheuerman (at) charlestonlaw.edu.
August 31, 2011
Sixth Biennial Conference on the Law of Obligations at University of Western Ontario
Announcement from Professor Jason Neyers (Univ. of Western Ontario):
Hosted by The Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada
July 17-20, 2012
The Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario is pleased to be hosting the Sixth Biennial Conference on the Law of Obligations. The conference will bring together leading scholars in tort, contract, equity and unjust enrichment from throughout the common law world.
The theme of the conference is "Challenging Orthodoxy." We have prepared an academic program of over 60 speakers in which professors, graduate students and eminent practitioners will challenge established common law rules and suggest new approaches to both old and emerging problems. The plenary speakers are Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Justice Thomas Cromwell (Supreme Court of Canada), Melvin Eisenberg (Berkeley), John Goldberg (Harvard), Andrew Robertson (Melbourne), Ernest Weinrib (Toronto), Richard Wright (Chicago-Kent), and Ben Zipursky (Fordham).
The Obligations Conference originated at the University of Melbourne in 2002, and has since become one of the leading private law conferences in the common law world. The biennial conferences have been held at the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, the National University of Singapore and the University of Oxford.
For more information on the Conference and to register please visit: http://www.law.uwo.ca/Conferences/Obligations6/index.html.
August 30, 2011
Class Action Symposium at SCOTUSblog
SCOTUSblog is hosting an online symposium about the future of class action lawsuits in the wake of Concepcion and Dukes that will include the following contributors:
- Sergio Campos, University of Miami School of Law
- Sarah Crawford, National Partnership for Women and Families
- Scott Dodson, William & Mary Law School
- Allen Erbsen, University of Minnesota Law School
- Ted Frank, Center for Class Action Fairness, LLC
- J. Russell Jackson, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
- Paul Karlsgodt, Baker Hostetler
- Charles Silver, University of Texas Law School
- Andrew J. Trask, McGuire Woods
August 29, 2011
Grabill on Judicial Review of Private Mass Tort Settlements
Jeremy Grabill (Weill, Gotshall) has posted to SSRN his article, Judicial Review of Private Mass Tort Settlements, which is forthcoming in the Seton Hall Law Review. Here's the abstract:
In the mass tort context, class action settlements have largely given way to a unique form of non-class aggregate settlements that this Article refers to as “private mass tort settlements.” Although it has been argued that aggregation in tort law is “inevitable,” the legal profession has struggled for many years to find an effective aggregate settlement mechanism for mass tort litigation that does not run afoul of the “historic tradition” that everyone should have their own day in court, assuming they want it. Over the last decade, however, as a result of the evolution of non-class aggregate settlements, a new opt-in paradigm for mass tort settlements has emerged that is true to that historic tradition. This Article discusses the new opt-in paradigm and the appropriate contours of judicial authority vis-à-vis private mass tort settlements.
Private mass tort settlements present a difficult conundrum for presiding judges. On one hand, mass tort litigation requires active judicial involvement and oversight due to the sheer size and complexity of such matters. Thus, having been intimately involved in the litigation from its inception, it understandably seems natural for courts to want to exercise some degree of control over private mass tort settlements. But, on the other hand, like traditional one-on-one settlements and unlike class action settlements and other specific settlements, private mass tort settlements do not impact the rights of absent or unrepresented parties. Perhaps not surprisingly then, courts have struggled in applying established principles concerning the scope of judicial authority to evaluate and oversee the implementation of traditional settlements in the unfamiliar context of private mass tort settlements.
This Article seeks to provide a clear path forward by first examining the limited contexts in which courts have the authority to evaluate and oversee the implementation of traditional settlements, highlighting the nature of the absent or unrepresented interests that judicial review is designed to protect in those traditional contexts. The Article then discusses the emerging opt-in paradigm for mass tort settlements and traces the paradigm’s lineage to three recent cases: In re Baycol Products Liability Litigation, In re Vioxx Products Liability Litigation, and In re World Trade Center Disaster Site Litigation. The Article argues that the well-established maxim that courts lack authority over private one-on-one settlements should apply with equal force to private mass tort settlements because these non-class aggregate settlements allow each individual plaintiff to decide whether or not to settle on the terms offered and do not impact the rights of absent or unrepresented parties. In short, courts do not have - and do not need - the authority to review private mass tort settlements. The Article concludes by addressing the arguments that have been advanced to support judicial review of non-class aggregate settlements, debunking the “quasi-class action” theory that some courts have relied upon to regulate attorneys’ fees in connection with mass tort settlements, and discussing the various ways in which courts may nevertheless be able to influence private mass tort settlements.