– Richard Nagareda, Professor of Law and Director of the Cecil D. Branstetter Litigation & Dispute Resolution Program at Vanderbilt Law School
Vioxx, Fen-Phen, Agent Orange, the Dalkon Shield, silicone breast implants and asbestos comprise a short list of major personal-injury lawsuits that have dominated the multi-billion dollar world of mass tort litigation over the past four decades.
“The real story of mass torts today is the story of how these lawyers have come to function as a rival regime of legal reform, one that wields the power to replace the legal rights of affected persons with a new set of rights spelled out in some manner of settlement agreement,” Professor Nagareda says. “Real lawyers in the real world are both heroes and villains here.”
Professor Nagareda’s ambitious plan to reform mass torts is founded on the fact that most mass tort cases are ultimately resolved via elaborate settlement negotiations. He advocates that mass torts be re-conceived as a form of governance — and their settlement an opportunity to form a privatized, administrative system to compensate victims — rather than as a problem of litigation He proposes to design improved oversight and accountability into this privatized system of compensation by blending the work of private attorneys with the authority of public administrative agencies.
“[Richard Nagareda] offers an ingenious and attractive public law solution to what he properly sees as a public law problem—and shows us how to achieve it," Peter Schuck, the Simeon E. Baldwin Professor of Law at Yale, said. Samuel Issacharoff, Reiss Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University Law School, characterized Professor Nagareda’s book as "an indispensable read for anyone interested in the real world of how injured individuals are compensated in mass American society.”
Vanderbilt Law School hosted a panel discussion of Professor Nagareda’s book on September 14 featuring tort scholars Anthony Sebok, who joins the faculty of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law this fall, and Catherine Sharkey of Columbia Law School.
Read Anthony Sebok’s September 25 FindLaw.com blog about Mass Torts in a World of Settlement: When is a class action superior to multiple individual lawsuits?
Professor Nagareda is the director of the Cecil D. Branstetter Litigation & Dispute Resolution Program and holds the Tarkington Chair in Teaching Excellence at Vanderbilt Law School.