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Gary T. Schwartz; 30-Year UCLA Law Professor, Scholar

July 30, 2001|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Gary T. Schwartz, a UCLA law professor who was a nationally recognized scholar of personal injury cases and other forms of tort law, has died. He was 61.

Schwartz died Wednesday in his Los Angeles home. He had been diagnosed earlier this year with a brain tumor, UCLA officials said.

"To his students, he was boyish, endearing, encyclopedic and brilliant," said Jonathan D. Varat, dean of the UCLA School of Law. "He brought to his remarkable and insightful scholarship a deep sense of history, a pragmatic sense of economic reality, and a keen sense of justice."

Schwartz had taught at UCLA for more than 30 years and held the William D. Warren Chair. He wrote widely and served as a reporter for the American Law Institute's Restatement (Third) of Torts: Liability for Physical Harm (Basic Principles).

Widely respected for his expertise, Schwartz was a consultant to several private and governmental groups, including the Rand Corp. Institute for Civil Justice, the Committee for Economic Development, the California Legislature Joint Committee on Tort Liability, the Assn. of Bay Area Governments, the California Citizens Commission on Tort Reform and the Los Angeles City Council. He also served on the board of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Legal Services Society.

Because of his ability to explain arcane law in down-to-earth terms, Schwartz was also sought out by the news media for commentary on trend-setting legal cases involving cigarette smoking, automobile manufacturers' liability for car crashes and other torts.

The legal definition of "nuisance," he once explained, for example, to a Times reporter inquiring about a suit over neighbors' smoking, is "loosey-goosey," meaning it can expand to cover almost any situation where an annoying activity interferes with a neighbor's use of his property.

Schwartz's high level of scholarship, colleagues said, never interfered with his love of fun--faculty tennis games, faculty-student softball games, theater, opera, books, fine-art photography and good food.

Born in Cleveland, Schwartz was known for his loyalty to the Cleveland Indians--and his equanimity in having season tickets to Los Angeles Dodger games.

Schwartz earned his bachelor's degree at Oberlin College, attended Cornell University and earned his law degree at Harvard. Before joining the UCLA faculty in 1969, he worked in Washington, D.C., with the Neighborhood Legal Services Project and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

He is survived by his mother, Betty Schwartz of Cleveland; a sister, Joanne Gillespie of Kensington, Md.; and a brother, Ken Schwartz of Garrett Park, Md.

The UCLA School of Law is planning a memorial service for the fall. The family has asked that any memorial contributions be made to the UCLA Foundation/Law, Box 951476, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476, to the attention of Dean Jonathan D. Varat.

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