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Class action reform the subject of debate at Vanderbilt

Jan. 15, 2003, 12:05 PM

January 15, 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Two of the leading thinkers in class action litigation will meet at Vanderbilt University Law School on Jan. 22 to debate controversial pending legislation that would reform the way class action lawsuits are tried.

Richard Nagareda, professor of law, and Richard Scruggs, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys leading the challenge against the tobacco industry, will participate in a forum titled “Should Congress Pass the Class Action Fairness Act?”

The event, which starts at 12:10 p.m., will be held in the Alumni Room of the Vanderbilt University Law School at 131 21st Ave. S. It is free and open to the public.

Nagareda’s recent scholarship explores the impact of class action lawsuits on the pursuit of legal rights. He joined the Law School faculty in 2001, having previously taught on the faculty of the University of Georgia School of Law. Prior to that, Nagareda clerked for Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and practiced in the Office of Legal Counsel of the United States Department of Justice and as an associate at Shea & Gardner in Washington, D.C. He teaches courses on evidence and complex litigation and a seminar on mass torts and, in 2002, he won the Hartman Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Scruggs, senior partner in The Scruggs Law Firm in Pascagoula, Miss., has gained national publicity for his role in Mississippi’s pioneering litigation to recover public health care expenditures from the tobacco industry and for the legal assault on managed care abuses. He is a fellow in the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

"The Class Action Fairness Act represents much-needed reform that makes a solid start toward curbing the worst sorts of abuses in class action litigation — abuses, I might add, by both plaintiffs’ lawyers and defendants,” said Nagareda, who initiated the debate. “The most important provisions are those that make it difficult for the attorneys on both sides to stick class members with an inadequate settlement agreement by having it rubber-stamped by a friendly judge in some obscure state court. The legislation proceeds from the common-sense idea that class actions directed at nationwide wrongdoing should be addressed primarily by the federal courts, not state courts.”

The debate is sponsored by the Federalist Society, a student organization that promotes the intellectual exchange of views concerning current legal and public policy interests.

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Media contact: Susanne Loftis, 615-322-NEWS,