Academic journal article Vanderbilt Law Review

Richard A. Nagareda, in Memoriam 1963-2010

Academic journal article Vanderbilt Law Review

Richard A. Nagareda, in Memoriam 1963-2010

Article excerpt

On November 12, 2010, the Vanderbilt University Law School held a service to commemorate the life and career of Professor Richard A. Nagareda, a leading civil litigation scholar whose work focused on aggregate litigation. Speaking at the ceremony were J. Maria Glover, Climenko Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School; Professor John CP. Goldberg of Harvard Law School; Dean Chris Guthrie of Vanderbilt University Law School; Professor Samuel Issacharoff of New York University School of Law; and Professor Suzanna Sherry of Vanderbilt University Law School. In the pages that follow, these individuals share tribute essays based largely on the sentiments they expressed to the Vanderbilt community during the memorial service. Andrew Gould, clerk for Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas and alumnus of Vanderbilt University Law School, introduces the memorial compilation.


A year ago, many of us gathered in Vanderbilt University Law School's Flynn Auditorium to attend a "Celebration of the Life of Professor Richard Nagareda." Frankly, I didn't feel like celebrating, a sentiment I suspect others shared. Richard - scholar, teacher, mentor, colleague, friend, father, husband - had left this earth before any of us were ready to part with him.

And yet, as the speakers shared their memories of Richard, the intense grief I had felt since learning of Richard's untimely death began to dissipate. There was then, and there remains now, so much to celebrate about his life. For in his forty-seven years, Richard so greatly touched the lives of those of us who were fortunate to spend time with him that he forever will be with us.

This issue of the Vanderbilt Law Review honors Richard - our scholar, our teacher, our friend. In it appear tributes from a group of distinctive scholars who, in many ways, knew him best: Maria Glover, who was a prize student of Richard's and will soon be a prize scholar in the field of civil litigation; John Goldberg, Richard's long-time colleague and friend; Chris Guthrie, Dean of the Law School and another colleague and friend; Sam Issacharoff, Richard's mentor in the legal academy or "Sith Lord,"1 as Richard affectionately called him; and Suzanna Sherry, who not only was a colleague and friend but who also ensured that Richard's dedication to his students carried forward in his absence. Each of these scholars delivered deeply touching tributes to Richard when we met last year to celebrate his life. Here, they build upon them. In particular, each will begin with a selection from the ever-quotable Nagareda. Those selections will serve as a starting point for discussing how Richard enriched our lives as well as the law.

Given that Richard had only recently reached his academic prime, the breadth of his scholarly impact is staggering. He began his academic career writing on the Federal Rules of Evidence and mass tort litigation. He soon dumped the former to focus on the latter, and he then pivoted from analyzing mass tort litigation specifically to theorizing about aggregate litigation more generally. Richard quickly established himself as a leading authority in that increasingly important field - and particularly with respect to the Rule 23 class action. His works have been cited in over six-hundred law-review articles,2 not to mention books and treatises. In 2003, only nine years after Richard had entered the academy, he was appointed Associate Reporter for the American Law Institute's recently published Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation. But these feats are rivaled by one he did not see: the role he played in the Supreme Court's decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes.3 This decision was among the most significant of the 2010 term, not only because of the story behind the case - 1.5 million female employees of Wal-Mart suing the world's largest private employer for gender discrimination -but also because of the effect it will have, and already has had, on the Rule 23 class action. …

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