Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
The Fifth Annual Conference on the Globalization of Class Actions and Mass Litigation is being hosted by Tilburg University and will be held on December 8-9, 2011 in The Hague, Netherlands. The conference is being organized by Professors Deborah Hensler (Stanford Law School), Christopher Hodges (Oxford Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and Erasmus University), and Ianika Tzankova (Tilburg University). Master claim administrator Kenneth Feinberg is delivering the keynote speech.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
On this Friday, November 11, 2011, Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles will host a symposium on CERCLA and the Future of Liability-Based Environmental Regulation. Here's a description of the symposium:
Enacted in 1980, CERCLA takes a unique approach to federal environmental regulation. Unlike other major federal environmental statutes, CERCLA addresses soil and groundwater contamination through a tort-like liability scheme imposing joint and several, retroactive liability on broad classes of covered persons to clean up contaminated property. With billions of dollars in aggregate cleanup costs at stake, CERCLA has generated substantial and unrelenting litigation over the past three decades that will likely continue for years to come.
CERCLA presents challenging issues about the relationship between federal and state pollution laws on topics ranging from regulatory oversight to toxic torts. Some accuse CERCLA's broad liability scheme and remediation process requirements (the "national contingency plan") of fostering sprawl by discouraging in-fill property development. Others object to federal and state "brownfield" laws promoting more streamlined in-fill remediation on environmental justice grounds. The U.S. Supreme Court's recent decisions in Aviall, Atlantic Research and Burlington Northern raised new questions about the scope of CERCLA liability, the extent of public and private cost recovery rights, and incentives for polluters to settle CERCLA liabilities with regulatory authorities.
These timely issues address important concerns affecting industries, communities and regulators across the country; they also present bigger picture questions. Has CERCLA worked? Can it be improved? Should CERCLA's tort-like liability-based approach to environmental regulation be employed to address other environmental problems? This symposium will explore the impact of CERCLA on the current state of contaminated property law over the past 30 years and the future of liability-based environmental regulation.
UPDATE -- Here's a desciption of the symposium panels:
Panel #1: CERCLA and Federalism. This panel will discuss the relationship between state and federal contaminated property and land use law, including issues relating to the evolution of state Superfund statutes and tort law, preemption, and concurrent federal, state and local regulatory authority. Speakers: Prof. Robin Kundis Craig (Florida State); Prof. Alexandra Klass (Minnesota); Prof. William Rodgers (Washington); Moderator: Prof. Ann Carlson (UCLA)
Panel #2: CERCLA, Brownfields and Distributive Equity. This panel will focus on the economic, public health and social welfare impacts of CERCLA liability and remediation process requirements on land use and redevelopment, including the economic benefits and environmental justice implications of state and federal brownfield programs. Speakers: Prof. Joel Eisen (Richmond); Prof. Eileen Gauna (New Mexico); Jay Pendergrass, Esq. (Environmental Law Institute); Nicholas Targ, Esq. (Holland & Knight);Moderator: Romel Pascual (Deputy Mayor for Environment, City of Los Angeles)
Panel #3: CERCLA – Public Enforcement. This panel will focus on the effectiveness and normative value of CERCLA’s liability-based regulatory scheme, including an evaluation of the public health and welfare efficacy of the CERCLA cleanup process under the national contingency plan, and the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Atlantic Research and Burlington Northern decisions on public enforcement and regulatory agency settlement options. Speakers: Prof. Martha Judy (Vermont); Prof. Joel Mintz (Nova Southeastern); Prof. Robert Percival (Maryland); Moderator: Professor Daniel Selmi (Loyola)
Panel #4: CERCLA – Private Enforcement. This panel will explore the impact of the Aviall, Atlantic Research and Burlington Northern decisions on CERCLA private cost recovery litigation, as well as waste disposal and litigation behavioral incentives on the regulated community created by CERCLA and the dispute resolution challenges presented by CERCLA’s liability scheme. Speakers: Prof. Steven Ferrey (Suffolk); Prof. Craig Johnston (Lewis & Clark); Prof. Alfred Light (St. Thomas); Moderator: Prof. Ronald Aronovsky (Southwestern)
Friday, November 4, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Robin Effron has published an opinion piece on the Wal-Mart class action in the Westlaw Journal. You can find more information at the civil procedure & federal courts blog. Unfortunately, you have to log on to westlaw to read it!
David Rosenberg & Kathryn Spier have posted "On Structural Bias in the Litigation of Common Question Claims" on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This essay focuses on civil litigation that involves multiple plaintiffs suing a single defendant for damages or equitable remedies on causes of action that raise the same or similar legal and factual claims and / or defenses. Such common question claims comprise a large fraction of U.S. civil actions, ranging from the relatively simple traffic accident involving personal injury claims by two or more occupants of one car charging the driver of the other car with negligence to large-scale litigation consisting of numerous plaintiffs suing a business or government defendant on costly and complex claims. Examples of large-scale common question litigations include claims of products liability, securities fraud, deceptive consumer practices, corporate misgovernance, environmental pollution, employment discrimination, and unconstitutional state action. All common question litigation proceeds either by plaintiffs prosecuting their claims respectively in separate, individual actions or collectively in joint actions, voluntarily formed or judicially mandated such as by class action.
Using an analytical model, we explore the effects of the mode of action – separate versus joint – on the plaintiffs’ and the defendant’s respective incentives to invest in litigating outcome-determinative common questions. We demonstrate a general and heretofore largely unrecognized correlation between separate actions and litigants’ investment incentives that implies the existence of a structural bias favoring defendants in common question litigation. Essentially, in a given separate action the defendant spends to defeat all plaintiffs, while each individual plaintiff spends only to win for himself; in a joint action, both sides have equivalent aggregate investment incentives and hence there is no structural bias. Analytical demonstration of why and how such asymmetric investment incentives arise and structurally bias outcomes in separate but not joint actions sets the stage for consideration of the public policy implications. In particular, we discuss the potentially adverse consequences of vesting defendants with such superior litigation power over plaintiffs in separate actions for achieving the primary social objective of civil liability, deterrence of unreasonably risky behavior.