Members of the legal community will converge in Florida next month for the fourth annual Miami Law Class Action and Complex Litigation Forum.

The event, held on Friday, Jan. 24 by the University of Miami School of Law, will feature views on ethics issues in large scale litigation, views on multidistrict litigation from judges and attorneys, lessons learned from complex cases such as the opioid and Monsanto Roundup litigation as well as hot topics in the class-action and MDL realms. The event arose as a result of discussions among three leading Miami firms in trial, appellate and class action law Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, Podhurst Orseck and Harke Law LLP.

The day-long conference will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Newman Alumni Center, 6200 San Amaro Drive, Coral Gables, Florida.

This year’s event comes at a time where the number of pending multidistrict litigations has “mushroomed in the last decade” to more than ever before, according to Peter Prieto of Podhurst Orseck P.A.

As of the end of September 2018, multidistrict litigation accounted for more than half of the pending federal civil docket. In 2002, multidistrict litigation only accounted for 16 percent of the civil caseload, according to a report from the Lawyers for Civil Justice.

“Whenever there is an allegation of wrongdoing it is starting to impact not simply one state or one locality but really people around the country,” said Prieto, who is a moderator for the event and served as lead counsel in the Takata Airbag multidistrict litigation. “In the age of the Internet if some lawyer in one part of the country has filed a class action or personal injury case, a lawyer in another part of the country will have learned about it and may file their own case.” This year’s keynote speakers are Brian Fitzpatrick, Vanderbilt University Law School professor and author of The Conservative Case for Class Actions, and John H. Beisner, who leads the mass torts, insurance and consumer litigation group for Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP in Washington, D.C.

The discussion will include a debate on the topic of Fitzpatrick’s book: Whether conservatives should favor class actions.

Prieto said this year’s event differs from years past because of the focus on some of the most recent class actions and MDLs.

“These cases are of significance not for a particular state or locale but significant for the entire country,” Prieto said.

Those on the bench and in the classroom expected to participate in the panel discussions include U.S. District Judges Dan A. Polster; Roy Altman; Robert M. Dow Jr.; Eldon E. Fallon; Darrin P. Gayles; Catherine D. Perry; David Proctor; Robin L. Rosenberg; 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy J. St. Eve; Circuit Court Judge William L. Thomas; University of Miami School of Law professor Sergio Campos; Vanderbilt Law School professor Brian T. Fitzpatrick; and David W. Ichel, a professor, arbitrator/mediator and previous partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Attorneys Sheila L. Birnbaum of Dechert LLP; William Blechman of Kenny Nachwalter P.A; Samuel A. Danon of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP; Paul Geller of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP; Robert C. Gilbert of KO Lawyers; Michael I. Goldberg and Valerie B. Greenberg of Akerman LLP; John P. Hooper of King & Spaulding; Edith M. Kallas of Whatley Kallas LLP; Adam Moskowitz of The Moskowitz Law Firm; David S. Stellings of Heimann & Bernstein LLP; Roland Tellis of Baron & Budd and Benjamin J. Widlanski of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton LLP will also be in attendance.

Events such as these are important because they allow those in the legal community to hear from lawyers, judges and academics to gather a wide perspective on the issues surrounding these cases, Prieto said.

“The more that you hear from a combo of lawyers, judges and scholars the better a lawyer will handle these kinds of cases,” he said, adding that these cases can be difficult to litigate and each one presents new issues.

Those interested in registering can do so at www.law.miami.edu/mcaf. Registration fees are $495 or $395 for recent Miami Law alumni. Attendees can also earn up to 8.5 continuing legal education credits.