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Mark Behrens

Behrens_Mark_2015_sized
Mark Behrens

Mark Behrens
Shook, Hardy & Bacon, LLP
mbehrens@shb.com

The Civil Justice Response (CJR) Committee provides members with an opportunity to help shape the legal environment and keep abreast of civil justice developments. The CJR Committee also plays an important role in the IADC’s visibility effort. We hope you join us. Below are a few highlights of the CJR Committee’s work.

In September, the IADC filed a comment in the Mississippi Supreme Court opposing the proposed adoption of a federal Rule 23-like class action procedure for Mississippi state courts. Stephanie Rippee, of Watkins & Eager PLLC in Jackson, Mississippi, prepared the IADC’s comment.

In June, the IADC joined a letter signed by some thirty major business, civil justice, and sister defense lawyer organizations urging the federal Advisory Committee on Civil Rules to amend the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to require the disclosure of third-party litigation funding arrangements in any civil action filed in federal court. The Advisory Committee met in early November 2017 and reportedly plans to look into third-party litigation funding disclosure, perhaps as part of a subcommittee studying changes to multi-district litigation procedures. 

These and other activities helped the IADC receive the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform’s (ILR) 2017 Outstanding Alliance Award. The award recognized the IADC’s collaboration with ILR on reform issues that are central to ILR’s program abroad and the IADC’s work as a valuable partner with ILR on reform issues in the United States.

The CJR Committee’s 2017 activities built on other recent successes for the IADC. For example, in 2016, the IADC submitted a comment to the ABA opposing any change in ABA policy that would permit non-lawyer ownership of law firms. ABA movement toward allowing alternative business structures for law firms appears to have halted. In 2015, the IADC led a coalition against a proposed ABA resolution attacking restrictions on punitive damages for manufacturers of FDA-approved drugs and devices. The ABA did not bring the proposed resolution to the floor of the House of Delegates for a vote.

Other ways the CJR Committee serves IADC members include:

Monthly Calls

We have calls on the first Monday of each month at 1:30 p.m. U.S. Central time. We share information about state and federal legislation and court rule proposals in the U.S. We also discuss international developments.

Listservs

We do frequent postings to keep CJR Committee members informed about civil justice developments. We also share news stories and research reports that address civil justice issues. 

Programming

We develop Webinars and other programming for IADC members. For example, in September, we sponsored a Webinar by tort expert Victor Schwartz on “Deep Pocket Jurisprudence: How to Spot It and Stop It.” Victor developed the label “deep pocket jurisprudence” from work on his torts casebook and the practice of law. Deep pocket jurisprudence occurs when appellate courts expand tort law and hold defendants subject to liability for harms caused by others in order to provide the plaintiff with a recovery. Examples include decisions holding branded drug companies subject to liability for harms caused by generic drugs or holding automobile companies subject to liability when the real culprit is a drunk driver. 

In 2018, Victor will be doing a Webinar to provide an update on American Law Institute Restatement projects related to civil justice issues, including a controversial ALI Restatement project on Liability Insurance.

If you have an idea for a Webinar, please reach out to our Vice Chair of Webinars, Lee Mickus of Taylor Anderson LLP in Denver, Colorado, lmickus@talawfirm.com.

We have an interesting panel planned for the 2018 Midyear Meeting at La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, California. On Wednesday, February 14 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Tiger Joyce, president of the America Tort Reform Association, and Molly Jones of Monsanto Co., both new IADC members, will be discussing “Judicial Hellholes: How They Are Selected and How They Can Be Remedied.”

Newsletters

We are looking for members to write Newsletters or contribute to the Defense Counsel Journal. If you have an idea for a Newsletter, please contact our Vice Chair of Publications, Phil Goldberg of Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. in Washington, DC, pgoldberg@shb.com.

Special Projects

If you have an idea for a special project, please contact our Vice Chair of Programs and Projects, Leah Lorber of GlaxoSmithKline in Washington, DC, leah.l.lorber@gsk.com.

International

Gord McKee of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto, Canada, gordon.mckee@blakes.com, is our Vice Chair of International. Through Gord’s leadership, the IADC has been considering opportunities to contribute to meaningful class action reform in Canada. We are presently working to expand the Committee’s global reach. 

Corporate Counsel

We have active participation from in-house counsel. This year, our recruiting efforts—led by Vice Chair of Membership, Michele Smith of Mehaffy Weber in Beaumont, Texas, MicheleSmith@mehaffyweber.com—focused on increasing the number of in-house counsel on the Committee. We also added a number of leaders of key U.S.-based civil justice organizations to our roster. Corporate counsel interested in learning more are encouraged to contact our Vice Chair of Corporate Counsel, Rob Hunter of Altec, Inc., in Birmingham, Alabama, rob.hunter@altec.com.

Diversity

Diversity is important to the IADC and important to our Committee. Markus Green of Pfizer, Inc. in New York City, markus.green@pfizer.com, is our Vice Chair of Diversity. Markus helps ensure that our recruiting and programming includes diverse attorneys. If you know of diverse attorneys that are interested in civil justice issues, please let us know so that we can reach out to them.

Communication

Our Committee likes to share good news and disseminate information as a benefit to members. Leigh Ann Schell of Adams & Reese LLP in New Orleans, Louisiana, leighann.schell@arlaw.com is our Vice Chair of Communications. Please contact Leigh Ann if you need help getting your message out.

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Finally, if you have thoughts about how our Committee can serve the IADC better, please let us know. We welcome input from all. Feel free to contact me at mbehrens@shb.com.

 

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