Recent Symposia


Bankruptcy and Beyond: Solving the Problem of Municipal Financial Distress

April 14, 2014-  Harrisburg Campus


Municipal financial distress is a problem of enormous importance both nationally and in Pennsylvania. Detroit recently filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in history, 21 cities in Pennsylvania are in Act 47, the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act program, and Harrisburg is on its way to recovery after operating in receivership for over two years. This Symposium, presented by the Widener Law Journal of Widener University School of Law’s Harrisburg Campus, will explore the causes of municipal distress and approaches to alleviating the problem. Reducing existing debt is not enough; policymakers must think creatively about municipal structure, finance, and expenditures. The invited speakers include experts in state and local government law, municipal finance and tax issues, public pensions, and Chapter 9 bankruptcy.  The Symposium will provide a unique opportunity for nationally recognized scholars in a variety of areas related to municipal financial distress to exchange ideas with professionals involved in Harrisburg’s recovery. Six CLE credits will be available for Pennsylvania and Delaware lawyers.


Keynote Speaker: General William Lynch, Receiver for the City of Harrisburg



•Michelle Wilde Anderson, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

•Hon. Thomas Bennett, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Alabama

•Christine Sgarlata Chung, Albany Law School

•Hon. Mary D. France, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania

•Mark Kaufman, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP

•Juliet M. Moringiello, Widener University School of Law

•Matthew Parlow, Marquette University School of Law

•Randle Pollard, Indiana University Kelley School of Business

•Scott Pryor, Regent University School of Law

•Frank H. Shafroth, George Mason University

•David A. Skeel, University of Pennsylvania School of Law

•David Thornburgh, University of Pennsylvania Fels Institute of Government

•David Unkovic, McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC




Perspectives on Mass Tort Litigation

April 16, 2013 – Harrisburg Campus


Pharmaceuticals. Asbestos. BP oil spill. “September 11th.” How does the civil justice system respond when a large number of claims derive from a product or event?

This symposium approaches mass tort litigation from a variety of perspectives. First, a group of nationally renowned legal academics describes and discusses the theories underlying mass tort litigation. Then a panel of practitioners introduces several emerging issues in the practice of mass torts. Next, Pennsylvania-specific civil justice issues, including joint and several liability and venue, are debated. These reforms affect not only mass tort, but more traditional tort litigation as well. One of the original mass tort issues—asbestos—created the widespread problem of bankrupt defendants, and resolving the problem is the subject of the fourth panel. Finally, traditional rules of ethics are applied in the mass torts context.

United States District Judge Eduardo Robreno of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania will deliver the Distinguished Address, “Federal Asbestos Litigation: Black Hole or New Paradigm?” Judge Robreno is the presiding judge of the federal asbestos multidistrict litigation docket, MDL 875, the largest and longest-lasting MDL of all. Judge Robreno’s 2008 appointment as presiding judge led to a significant change in the management of MDL 875.

“Perspectives on Mass Tort Litigation” features a distinguished group of legal academics, practitioners, and judges addressing an increasingly important area of litigation.

Symposium: Mass Tort Litigation Brochure

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