This seminar focuses upon what may be characterized as "mass tort" practice. It addresses litigation concerning widely dispersed and allegedly injurious products (e.g., asbestos, tobacco, Dalkon Shield, breast implants, Agent Orange, Swine Flu vaccine, Bendectin, Vioxx), occupational exposures to allegedly hazardous substances and reproductive toxins, and environmental mass disasters (e.g., Love Canal, Bohpal, Three Mile Island, Buffalo Creek, Exxon Valdez, Woburn, Jackson Township, Hanford, Los Alamos, Rocky Flats). The class also addresses discrete catastrophes such as the Pan Am Lockerbie air crash and the MGM Grand Hotel fire, and how such litigation is commenced, undertaken, and resolved.
The purpose of the seminar is not only to explore the important doctrinal changes that have occurred as courts struggle to cope with a tidal wave of mass tort litigation, but also to come to grips with the public policy, ethical, and economic consequences of these changes. The seminar will attempt to impart a sense of how the evolution of mass tort doctrine and practice has impacted the practice of law and the structure of law firms, on both the plaintiff's and the defense sides of the aisle, examining frankly in this context the interplay between law as a business and law as a profession.