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.