Mass Tort Deals by Elizabeth Chamblee Burch
Elizabeth Chamblee Burch of UGA School of Law has published Mass Tort Deals: Backroom Bargaining in Multidistrict Litigation. This important new work “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.”
As part of the book’s release and with the assistance of the University of Georgia technology department, Professor Burch turned her years of research and collected documentation into a free and publicly searchable database available through UGA’s website. The database is similar to PACER but with additional functionality that enables users to search the text of the documents.
More about the book:
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.
Professor Burch also details her findings, the database, and its connection to the book on her blog, Mass Tort Litigation Blog.
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