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Law grad wins writing competition


July 24, 2007
Sarah Anchors, a May graduate of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, has won first place in a national writing competition of the American Bar Association.
Anchors will receive the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section legal writing award at the association’s annual meeting Aug. 9-14 in San Francisco. She wrote the paper, “Mass Market Fraud Theory: Dispensing With Individual Reliance in Class Actions Where Plaintiffs Allege Pervasive Misrepresentations to the Public,” while taking a mass torts class from Betsy Grey, a law professor and faculty fellow in the college’s Center for the Study of Law, Science and Technology.
The paper addresses a September 2006 action by a New York judge to certify a class of tens of millions of smokers suing major tobacco companies for allegedly misrepresenting the health risks of light cigarettes. The plaintiffs sought increased damages under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) based on the amount of money they paid for light cigarettes, expecting the products to be less dangerous than regular cigarettes. The judge used statistics and the theory that tobacco companies allegedly perpetrated a mass fraud on the American public to justify certifying the class.
But Anchors argued that RICO and the facts of the case required the plaintiffs to prove individual reliance on tobacco companies’ misrepresentations, and that such reliance couldn’t be shown through statistics. She concluded that the judge erred in certifying the class (a circuit judge has agreed to hear an appeal of the class action, but has not yet ruled).