MSU College of Law

Prominent attorneys to debate tort reform at MSU

For Release March 10, 2006

Russ White, University Relations: 517-432-0923,

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The nation’s leading advocate for tort reform will debate the mastermind of the precedent-setting tobacco litigation at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 14 in Wharton Center's Pasant Theatre at Michigan State University. They will be answering the question: "Is the Litigation Environment Hurting America’s Ability to Compete?"

This debate between Steven B. Hantler, the business community’s most respected legal reform advocate, and Dick Scruggs, the attorney who made headlines in the 1990s leading the litigation against the tobacco industry, is being sponsored by MSU College of Law.

Hantler is the assistant general counsel for government and regulation at DaimlerChrysler Corp. He directs the company’s class action group, consumer litigation group, litigation communications function and legal reform activities. He also serves as chairperson of the American Justice Partnership, which fights for legal reform.

The Scruggs Law Firm, located in Oxford, Miss., first attracted attention with its successful representation of individuals with asbestos-related injuries. This success led to the firm’s involvement in the state of Mississippi’s litigation against the tobacco industry. The firm’s successes and position made it instrumental in negotiating the $248 billion master settlement agreement in 1998. Scruggs and his firm have continued to help consumers in their litigation against large corporations.

The debate will be moderated by John Pirich, a partner with Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn and director of the Geoffrey Fieger Trial Practice Institute at MSU College of Law. The debate is free and open to the public, but interested persons are asked to reserve a seat at


MSU College of Law was founded as the Detroit College of Law in 1891. The college affiliated with MSU in 1995 and moved to MSU’s East Lansing campus in 1997. The association between the two schools has led to a comprehensive interdisciplinary legal education program at the law college. Today, the college is one of only two private law schools to be affiliated with a research university.