In the past few years, Professor Mark Moller of DePaul University Law School has proven to be one of the most thoughtful critics of modern class action law in the legal academy. While most commentators take on class action decisions from either a pro-plaintiff or pro-defendant standpoint, Professor Moller appears intent on evaluating these opinions according to the criteria set out by the arguments they advance. From that standpoint, he pointed out that class action defendants’ "originalist" arguments about due process were influenced heavily by a no-longer-favored line of Supreme Court cases. And now, as he argues in his … Continue Reading

 My apologies for posting late this week; I’m suffering from a little jet lag. I spent yesterday in Virginia at the annual conference for the American College of Court Business Judges, where John Beisner and I were presenting a number of developments in class action litigation.  Today I’m England, and by tonight, I will be in the Hague for the 5th Annual Conference on the Globalization of Class Actions and Mass Litigation, where Paul Karlsgodt (of ClassActionBlawg) and I will be eagerly taking notes.  

Before John and I presented on Monday, we were treated to a panel discussing … Continue Reading

Richard Nagareda’s object in Mass Torts in a World of Settlement, his only book-length theoretical work, was to show how settlements operate in a world in which aggregated litigation is common, and trial almost unheard of.

One of Nagareda’s primary observations is that settlements of mass torts are best handled by some administrative apparatus. In the meantime, the legal system is evolving to become more administrative in response to these mass torts.

Nagareda starts from the premise that mass torts deal with "generalized" wrongs. (He argues that this phenomenon arises largely from industrialization, which allows for both wide … Continue Reading

Today, the Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated opinion in Wal-Mart v. Dukes.

For those who like to skip ahead to the end to figure out whether their side won, the Court ruled in favor of Wal-Mart. That said, the real winner was the late Professor Richard Nagareda, whose articles on commonality clearly influenced Justice Scalia’s majority opinion.

In ruling for Wal-Mart, the Court issued two holdings: it held (5-4) that the plaintiffs had not met their burden on proving commonality, and (unanimously) that the plaintiffs could not certify a class for money damages under Rule 23(b)(2).

Now, what does … Continue Reading

 On Monday, I reported on the passing of Vanderbilt Professor Richard Nagareda. Given the widespread recognition of his contributions to studying aggregated litigation, it seemed appropriate to revisit one of his better articles: Aggregation and Its Discontents: Class Settlement Pressure, Class-Wide Arbitration, and CAFA, which originally appeared in the Columbia Law Review in 2006. 

In this article, Professor Nagareda took three debates over class-action practice — (1) do class actions create undue settlement pressure? (2) can arbitration clauses override the use of the class-action device?; and (3) did the passage of CAFA threaten to abrogate the Supreme Court’s … Continue Reading

I’m hardly the only one to note the untimely passing of Vanderbilt law proforessor Richard Nagareda this weekend, but in situations like these, one more voice rarely hurts.  Nagareda was a brilliant scholar, who handled tough issues in mass torts and class actions with little apparent effort.  I’ve relied on his work heavily on this blog, in other writing, and in briefing class-action issues in various cases.  

Vanderbilt’s statement is particularly appropriate:

Richard was a personal friend as well as an esteemed colleague, and those of us who were fortunate enough to know him and work with him

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All too often, courts and class-action litigants take the question of commonality for granted.  But, when framed properly, the question of commonality can provide a court with the tools necessary to engage in a truly rigorous analysis of a proposed class.

In his recent essay "Common Answers for Class Certification," noted professor Richard Nagareda takes the Ninth Circuit’s recent Dukes decision and uses it as a platform to discuss what commonality really means in the context of a class action. In doing so, he provides an excellent analysis of how defense counsel can frame the question of commonality … Continue Reading

Vanderbilt law professor Richard Nagareda has written an essay for the DePaul Law Review entitled "1938 All Over Again?: Pre-trial as Trial in Complex Litigation."  For the most part, this essay is a 30,000-foot view of litigation that emphasizes “cost imposition” (academic-speak for the idea that each party might try to drive up the other party’s costs).

Professor Nagareda’s analysis is still preliminary in places. (For example, in order to make his story of a chronological evolution work, he claims that class-action law became “distinctive” in 2006 with the In re Initial Public Offering opinion, in which the Second Circuit, … Continue Reading