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Legal Scholars, Judges, and Practitioners Convene on Future of Class Actions, Mass Torts, and MDLs

November 1–2, 2019
  • Robert Klonoff, Jordan D. Schnitzer Professor of Law
    Copyright 2019 Adam Bacher
  • Pound Civil Justice Institute attendees
    Copyright 2019 Adam Bacher
  • L-R: Gerson Smoger, Arthur Miller, Alan Morrison, Sam Issacharoff
    Copyright 2019 Adam Bacher

Class action lawsuits and other multidistrict litigation cases have had a significant impact on individuals and industries over the years. This is especially true with high profile cases such as NFL Concussion, Volkswagen Clean Diesel, British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon, Equifax Data Breach, and National Prescription Opiates. Such cases impact thousands (and in some cases, millions of people) and are highly publicized and well known to the general public.

Discussing the future of those lawsuits, Lewis  &  Clark Law School and the Pound Civil Justice Institute cosponsored a two-day academic symposium for attorneys, law professors and students, judges and law clerks, and public officials last fall. The symposium, Class Actions, Mass Torts, and MDLs: The Next 50 Years, hosted noted legal scholars from around the country. Professor Robert Klonoff, the Jordan D. Schnitzer Professor of Law, who teaches complex litigation and has worked on a number of leading class actions, was the conference chair. Over thirty professors, attorneys, and judges spoke. Civil procedure law expert and 2018 Distinguished Higgins Visitor Professor Arthur Miller, New York University School of Law, gave an interview-style lunchtime talk on the future of aggregate litigation. Oregon Supreme Court Justice Thomas Balmer opened Saturday’s events with a discussion of aggregate litigation in Oregon.

“This symposium brings together many of the leading scholars and practitioners in this important field. I cannot recall another conference that has had more people of this caliber in one setting,” said Klonoff.

Topics discussed at the symposium included:

  • State Class Actions and Other Aggregation Procedures or The Current State of State Court Class Actions and Other Aggregate Litigation
  • The Future of Mass Torts
  • Collective Preclusion: Inaccessible Arbitration
  • The Role of Attorneys in MDLs
  • Class Action Objectors/Rule 23 Amendments
  • Cy Pres and Class Action Settlements
  • Deregulation and Private Enforcement
  • Class Actions and Social Justice Reform
  • Interlocutory Appeals

In June, the Lewis & Clark Law Review Volume 24, Issue 2, published the collection of papers that were presented at the symposium. Together they provide a rich overview of the myriad important issues that are likely to dominate the aggregate litigation landscape for the next 50 years.