TIPS Disaster Initiative

Vol. 14 No. 2

Kathleen Strickland is a partner with Ropers Majeski Kohn & Bentley in San Francisco, specializing in complex litigation and mass tort. She is chair of the TIPS Task Force on Disaster Preparedness and Response and can be reached at


Free Access to Midyear Katrina Panel and Video; Spring Highlights Natural Disasters

Following rave reviews, TIPS members will have complimentary access online to the acclaimed Katrina panel program from the 2012 ABA Midyear Meeting in New Orleans sponsored by the TIPS Task Force on Disaster Preparedness and Response (the Disaster Task Force). As part of the year-long disaster initiative led by TIPS Chair Randy Aliment, the program featured first-hand accounts of how the judicial system copes with disaster from two judges who survived Hurricane Katrina but lost their homes.

Before a packed audience on February 3, the Hon. Karen Wells Roby, magistrate judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and the Hon. Madeleine Landrieu, judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, 1st District, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, who was a judge of the 41st District Court, Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans during Katrina, shared their personal and professional experiences for a program titled “When the Levees Broke: Judicial and Governmental Response to Hurricane Katrina.”

Moderated by Jennifer Kilpatrick of Degan, Blanchard & Nash, the judges’ presentation was preceded by a video of the 2005 storm’s devastation and the affected New Orleans parishes two years later, courtesy of the Times-Picayune. Because this program was so moving and thought-provoking, the Disaster Task Force, in partnership with West LegalEdcenter, is offering complimentary access to this program to all TIPS members for 30 days this spring. Watch your e-mail for a message about the program’s dates of availability, and consult the TIPS website at for more information.

As Landrieu noted, Hurricane Katrina impacted 25 area courts and affected everyone in New Orleans, without exception. Seventeen of the eighteen judges on Landrieu’s Parish of Orleans district court bench lost their homes. Louisianans residing in “blue sky” outside the city wondered why more New Orleanians didn’t call for help immediately following the disaster, but many city residents had no phones and no phone service to request assistance. The judges’ experiences, dialogue, and stories about how the justice system coped and developed best practices for disaster preparedness created a program unlike any other you may have seen about Katrina. Don’t miss the limited opportunity to view this exceptional presentation and video.

In conjunction with the focus on disasters caused by acts of negligence and nature, the New Orleans meeting also included a panel moderated by Allan Kanner of Kanner & Whiteley. Entitled “BP and Beyond: Litigation and Claims Following Mass Disasters,” the program addressed judicial and nonjudicial tools and techniques for the management of mass tort litigation. Speakers included the Hon. Lee Rosenthal, United State District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston, Texas; Professor Francis McGovern, Duke University; and Ted Henke, senior vice president and general counsel of Oil Casualty Insurance Limited.

Judge Rosenthal chaired the federal rules committee and took a lead roll in the American Law Institute’s aggregate litigation work. Drawing on his insights, the panel provided a big-picture analysis of the future direction for this type of litigation. For example, because most mass torts tap excess insurance carriers, provisions in the applicable insurance policies provide for international arbitrations of these mass tort cases. Professor McGovern provided perspective based on his extensive involvement with national and international arbitrations of mass tort claims. Finally, Ted Henke discussed the money and insurance behind disasters caused by acts of negligence. If your practice includes mass torts, log onto Thomson Reuters’ West LegalEdcenter and watch this outstanding program on how to effectively litigate in the complex area of mass torts and learn about procedural tools, techniques, and best practices.


Spring Meeting CLE: Natural Disasters

The Spring Meeting in Charleston will focus on natural disaster preparedness and response, including hurricanes, tornados, floods, and earthquakes. One panel will address natural disasters that require an immediate and comprehensive response from government and industry. Mayor Joseph Riley of Charleston, who received accolades for his visionary response to Category 4 Hurricane Hugo in 1989, will host the program. Panel participants include Mayor William Bell of Birmingham, cited for leadership in the wake of tornados that sliced across Alabama, and invited panelist Governor Beverly “Bev” Perdue of North Carolina, lauded for her thorough preparation in the path of Hurricane Irene. A second panel, including Judge Bernice Donald, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; Russ Paulson, executive director of hurricane recovery at American Red Cross; Dr. James R. “Bob” Bailey, senior managing engineer for buildings and structures at Exponent; and Ed Collins, national director of ProtectingAmerica, will assess national preparedness, geographic hot spots, and immediate steps to lessen the consequences of natural disasters.

A second CLE grouping of four panels will offer practical information on the following topics: “Advising Businesses on Natural Disaster Preparedness and Business Interruption Insurance,” “Second Responders: Experts Responding to a Natural Disaster Loss from Start (Investigation) to Finish (Daubert Challenges),” “Handling a Catastrophic Claim from Beginning to End, including Pre-Storm Preparedness and Post-Storm Evaluation,” and “5-Minute Drills: Foreseeable Ethical Problems and Solutions After a Natural Disaster.”


Annual Meeting CLE: Acts of Terror

The Disaster Task Force’s program at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago in August will focus on disasters caused by acts of terror. One panel will feature Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and invited speaker Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. A second panel will feature Bob Hartwig, President of the Insurance Information Institute; Jonathan Granoff of the Global Security Institute; and Shari Natovitz, vice president and risk manager for Silverstein Properties/World Trade Center Properties in New York City.


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