Deciphering the Class Action- Law for the Public Interest

 J. Gerard Stranch IV.

J. Gerard Stranch IV is the Managing Partner of Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, PLLC and runs the Class action, Mass Tort, and Complex Litigation Group, which includes class actions, antitrust, finance/securities, pharmaceutical, medical device, products liability, wage and hour, single event personal injury, and ERISA 401k litigation.  Mr. Stranch was appointed to the Steering Committee of In re Volkswagen "Clean Diesel" Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation.  A Settlement, valued at over $10 Billion, was approved for the 2.0L engine cars. He is currently the lead trial lawyer for the firms Opioid litigation and has been selected as one of three private attorneys to be class counsel on the negotiation class that will attempt to provide global resolutions of certain Opioid related litigation. 

He was also appointed to the Plaintiff Steering Committee for the In re: New England Compounding Pharmacy, Inc. Products Liability Litigation MDL and is the lawyer in charge of coordinating all litigation arising in Tennessee.  Over $225 million in settlements have been obtained on behalf of the victims of New England Compounding Pharmacy.  He has served as lead counsel in numerous cases including In re: Alpha Corp. Securities Litigation ($161 million settlement in a securities fraud suit), Lankford v. Dow Chemical ($4.2 million settlement in a nationwide consumer protection class action). Mr. Stranch has handled multiple voting rights issues and ballot access cases, including successfully defending the Democratic National Committee in a lawsuit which sought to keep President Obama off the Tennessee ballot in 2012. Mr. Stranch graduated from Emory University undergrad and received his law degree from Vanderbilt University School Law School. He is an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt University School of Law teaching a seminar on the practice of civil litigation. He is a fellow of the Nashville Bar and is an elected governing member of the Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association.  He has been and is currently listed as one of the Top 40 Under 40 by the National Trial Lawyers Association, and as a MidSouth Rising Star from 2009-2018 by the Super Lawyers. Mr. Stranch also serves on the executive committee of the Class Action Trial Lawyers Association.

Mr. Stranch's presentation will detail what a class action lawsuit is and how it can be used to further the public interest. This session will have a specific focus on the recently settled Volkswagen class action matter surrounding the diesel emission scandal as well as the ongoing Opioid lawsuit filed by Branstetter, Stranch, and Jennings.

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Current Twists from the Tumultuous 45-Year Legal History of the Endangered Species Act

Zygmunt Plater is Professor of Law at Boston College Law School, teaching and researching in environmental, property, land use, and administrative agency law. For over 30 years, he has been involved with many environmental protection and land use controversies, including service as petitioner and lead counsel in the extended ESA litigation over TVA's Tellico Dam, representing the endangered snail darter, farmers, Cherokee Indians, and environmentalists in the U.S. Supreme Court, federal agencies, congressional intrigues, and in the first-ever presidential Cabinet-level "God Committee" economic tribunal. His book The Snail Darter and the Dam is published by Yale University Press and being made into a documentary film series. He was chairman of the State of Alaska Oil Spill Commission’s Legal Task Force over a 2-year period after the wreck of the M/V Exxon-Valdez.

Drawing upon his work for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Commission he researched and consulted on responses to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Professor Plater has taught on seven law faculties. While teaching public law for 3 years in the National University of Ethiopia, he redrafted the laws protecting parks and refuges, assisted in publication of the Consolidated Laws of Ethiopia, and helped organize the first United Nations Conference on Individual Rights in Africa. Articles he has published include analyses of environmental law issues, private and public rights in land and resources, equitable discretion, administrative law, and related fields.  His articles have been cited in Supreme Court opinions. He is lead author of Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society, now in its fifth edition, Aspen Law Publishers, 2016. He received the Boston College Law School Faculty Excellence Award, the 2005 David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Land Air Water Association, and the ABA's Award, in 2019, for Excellence in Environmental, Energy, and Resources Stewardship.

This session will present a governance-model review of the legal history of the ESA and its implementation in the real world – with a cameo appearance of a classic ESA case from Tennessee – setting up a review of current dramatic face-offs between opponents of rigorous species protection and efforts by scientists and citizens to enforce and increase the Act’s protective mandate. Using the case example of the snail darter/Tellico Dam saga that Professor Plater and UT law students carried up through the U.S. Supreme Court, the session will explore law and policy fundamentals of ESA practice, including the series of administrative law, scientific proof, and congressional technicalities that presented themselves in that classic case. 

Zygmunt Plater & John P. Crowder

John P. Crowder is a retired biologist with 50 years of environmental experience,  working in both federal and private industry employment. Mr. Crowder worked for 21 years as a senior scientist at AECOM and ENSR. He served as Chief of the Environmental Compliance Branch of the Tennessee Valley Authority and Chief of the Aquatic Protection Branch of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he directed a staff that drafted the first edition of the Section 404(b) environmental guidelines for the Section 404 permit program. He also served as Chief of the Branch of Permits and Licenses in the Division of Ecological Services at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  For six years, Mr. Crowder served as Assistant Director of the Fish & Wildlife Service's national training school for warm-water fishery biologists.

He graduated in 1962 from Lipscomb University, where he studied biology, and pursued postgrauate work in fish diseases at Mississippi State University and in natural resources economics at George Washington University.  Mr. Crowder is from Nashville, Tennessee and lives in Florence, Alabama. He enjoys fishing and hiking and travel, especially to the U.S. West, Panhandle Florida, New England, and the Smoky Mountains.