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Backroom Bargaining in Multidistrict Litigation

Cambridge University Press
About the book

About the Book

Mass Tort Deals marshals a wide array of empirical data on multidistrict litigation to suggest that the systematic lack of checks and balances in our courts may benefit everyone but the plaintiffs.


Multidistrict proceedings, which place a single judge in charge of similar lawsuits filed across the country, consume over one-third of the federal courts’ pending civil docket. These are not run-of-the-mill disputes. Litigation over products like opioids, Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder, Bayer’s permanent birth control Essure, and General Motors ignition switch defects are headline-grabbing media magnets.


Federal judges certify a small handful of these proceedings as class actions, which affords them judicial safeguards. But as tort reform has made its way into civil procedure, it has effectively clamped down on class actions. As the continued suits over defective products suggest, however, those claims have not disappeared. Instead, they proceed as droves of individual suits packaged together by the courts and the lawyers. And for those mass torts, the risks for plaintiffs are significant: their lawyer may sell them out, and the jury trials they’ve come to expect are even rarer than the Perry Mason reruns that feature them.

About the author

About the Author

Elizabeth Chamblee Burch is the Fuller E. Callaway Chair of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law where she teaches Mass Torts, Complex Litigation, Civil Procedure, and Multidistrict Litigation: Law, Practice, and Strategy (with various sitting transferee judges).


Burch has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School and won the American Law Institute’s prestigious Early Career Scholars Medal in 2015. She has published over 30 articles and essays in journals such as the New York University Law ReviewCornell Law Review, Virginia Law Review, and Vanderbilt Law Review. She co-authors The Law of Class Actions and Other Aggregate Litigation and is a frequent commentator in national news media such as NPR, The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalForbes, USA Today, and The L.A. Times.

She has won numerous awards for her teaching and scholarship including the Fred C. Zacharias Memorial Prize for Professional Responsibility Scholarship, the John C. O'Byrne Memorial Award for furthering student-faculty relationships, the Harvey S. Jackson Excellence in Teaching Award, the Lightfoot, Franklin & White Faculty Scholarship Award, FSU's University-wide Graduate Teaching Award, and Professor of the Year.

Books by Elizabeth Burch

The Law of Class Actions and Other Aggregate Litigation

Mass Tort Deals:

Backroom Bargaining in Multidistrict Litigation


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"A University of Georgia law professor has written a page-turning expose making the case that lawyers are enriching themselves at the expense of their clients in high-stakes, bet-the-company products liability cases.” 

—  Katheryn Turner, The Daily Report

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