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The Light and the Dark Side of Class Actions

Traditionally, lawyers have thought that procedure is simply the means to enforce individual rights and duties. But with class actions, the balance between substance and procedure changes — sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. While class actions can be the only avenue for grievanced individuals to seek redress, the threat of knockout verdicts can also turn class actions into a club forcing innocent defendants to their knees.

Self-described as “an intellectual middle man between two cultures” — lawyers and laypeople — Professor Epstein is director of Chicago’s Law and Economics Program. He is well known for lively and impromptu lectures and a “relentlessly logical” classical liberal philosophy evident in publications on topics from criminal and liability law to George Orwell.

In his Athenaeum lecture, Richard Epstein will break down Congress’ recent Class Action Fairness Act and explain both the uses and abuses of what has been called “class action hell holes.”

A graduate of Yale Law School, Epstein is the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute. He has also worked with the American Enterprise and CATO Institutes. His books include Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism (2003); Cases and Materials on Torts (2000); and Simple Rules for a Complex World (1995).

Professor Epstein’s talk is sponsored by the Henry Salvatori Center for Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World and the Athenaeum.