Thursday, February 17, 2011
John Schwartz of the NYTimes reports in an article entitled "BP Says Terms in Oil Spill Settlement Are Too Generous." The basic complaint is contained in a 25 page letter to Mr. Feinberg that basically says BP is unahppy over the valuation of future damages. The article points out that BP's letter seems to indicate that Feinberg is independent in his valuations. It raises an important question also raised by John CP Goldberg's memo to Feinberg. That is, what is and what ought to be the relationship between the law on the books and the decisions of a claims facility set up outside the legal system?
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
On this Friday, February 18, Mississippi College School of Law will be hosting a law review symposium, Beyond the Horizon: The Gulf Oil Spill Crisis -- Analyzing Economic, Environmental, and Legal Implications of the Oil Spill. Here's the short-form brochure: Download MC Law Review Symposium Brochure.
Speakers include Professors Jamison Colburn (Penn State), Kenneth Murchison (LSU), David Robertson (Texas), Edward Sherman (Tulane), and Trudy Fisher (Miss. Dep't Envt'l Quality). Moderators include Jeffrey Jackson (Mississippi College) and Betty Ruth Fox (Watkins & Eager). Papers will subsequently be published in the Mississippi College Law Review.
I will also be speaking at the symposium, discussing issues of claim-administrator compensation, transparency, and independence in connection with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. My talk will expand upon my prior blog posts raising concerns (see here and here), which last summer triggered two articles in Forbes (see here and here), as well as a post from Legal Ethics Forum. Two weeks ago, the federal MDL court overseeing the BP litigation granted in part plaintiffs' motion to have the court oversee communications by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, and the MDL court ordered that the Gulf Coast Claims Facility may not state that it is "neutral" or completely "independent" of BP. Here's the MDL opinion: Download Order - Mot to Supervise GCCF Doc 1098 2-2-2011. On the recent MDL opinion, see also this Reuters article from Moira Herbst, quoting David Logan (Roger WIlliams), Monroe Freedman (Hofstra), and me.
UPDATE -- Here's the full-length brochure for the symposium: Download MC Law BP Symposium Handout.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Alan Morrison and Roger Trangsrud of George Washington are hosting a conference on the future of arbitration on March 17-18.
Here's a description of the program and list of the panels and times:
Over the past several decades, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) has been increasingly used by businesses to divert claims from the courts into the arbitral forum that they consider more favorable to them, which in many cases means that, as a practical matter, the claims will never be brought. In almost every case, the Supreme Court has upheld the position of the person arguing that unwilling parties who signed agreements containing a mandatory pre-dispute arbitration provision can be required to pursue their claims in arbitration.
Since the enforceability of such agreements is governed by the FAA, Congress can amend the FAA if it believes that those decisions produce undesirable results. The purpose of this conference is to debate the key policy questions surrounding various aspects of arbitration. The program will not be about what the FAA now permits and requires, but what it should permit and require.
Panel discussions will be held in the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room.
Panel: Channeling Class Actions into Single Claims Arbitrations
Andrew Pincus, Partner, Mayer Brown
Alan Kaplinsky, Partner, Ballard Spahr
Deepak Gupta, Staff Attorney, Public Citizen Litigation Group
Joshua Civin, Assistant Counsel of the Economic Justice and Education Practices, NAACP Legal Defense Fund
3:30-3:45 pm: Break
Panel: Proper Forum for Class Actions - Court or Arbitration?
Eric Tuchmann, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, American Arbitration Association
Brian Wolfman, Visiting Professor of Law and Co-Director, Institute for Public Representation, Georgetown Law
Jay Tidmarsh, Professor of Law, Notre Dame Law School
8-8:30 am: Breakfast
Panel: Procedural Rules or Limits & Federal vs. State Law
Paul Bland, Senior Attorney, Public Justice
Nina Pillard, Professor of Law, Georgetown Law
Thomas Stipanowich, Academic Director, Institute for Dispute Resolution, William H. Webster Chair in Dispute Resolution, and Professor of Law, Pepperdine University
Christopher Drahozal, John M. Rounds Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development, University of Kansas
Panel: The Role of Courts in Supervising Arbitrations
George Bermann, Jean Monnet Professor in EU Law, Walter Gellhorn Professor of Law, and Director of European Legal Studies, Columbia Law School
Nancy Welsh, Professor of Law, Penn State Law
Jean Stemlight, Director of the Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution and Michael and Sonja Saltman Professor of Law, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Noon-1 pm: Lunch
Panel: What Should Congress Do Beyond Procedural Reforms?
Kevin Carroll, Securities Industry Association
Elisabeth Stein, American Association for Justice
John Roddy, Partner, Roddy Klein & Ryan
Stephen Burbank, David Berger Professor for the Administration of Justice, University of Pennsylvania Law School
If you're interested in attending here's the registration link.