New UCI Civil Justice Research Institute gets $550,000 in new funding

A new Civil Justice Research Institute expected to open this fall at the UC Irvine School of Law will be getting more than a half-million dollars in funding from Newport Beach class-action attorney Richard Bridgford and litigation funder Bentham IMF.

Bentham, which has locations in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, has committed $300,000, while Bridgford pledged a $250,000 investment.

Overall, the institute has $1 million in funding.

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The institute, led by the law school's dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, will research factors that may limit access to America's court system. Those factors include inadequate funding of state and local courts, restrictions on class-action lawsuits and limits on punitive damages, according to a news release.

Chemerinsky said the institute will give students a chance to participate in "cutting-edge research."

"We're excited to be joining Dean Chemerinsky and UC Irvine School of Law in taking a disciplined look at the economic distortions in our system," Allison Chock, head of Bentham's Los Angeles office, said in a statement. "The institute will also look to the remedies that can help level the judicial playing field for litigants."

Bentham plans to be part of the institute's advisory board.

Bridgford, founding partner of Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian in Newport Beach, was a sponsor of the law school's 2015 Public Service Award dinner that honored U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Bridgford did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Alex Chan, alexandra.chan@latimes.com

Twitter: @AlexandraChan10

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