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LONG-SHOT CLASS ACTIONS:

Toward a Normative Theory of Legal Uncertainty

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 August 2002

Warren F. Schwartz
Affiliation:
Georgetown University Law Center

Extract

I. INTRODUCTION

Many judges and legal scholars are extremely hostile to class actions in which plaintiffs, despite the fact that they would be unlikely to prevail if the case were litigated to a conclusion, nevertheless obtain a large settlement of their claims. For example, Judge Richard Posner, in an opinion denying plaintiffs the opportunity to maintain a class action, cited with approval Judge Henry Friendly’s characterization of “settlements induced by a small probability of an immense judgment in a class action” as “blackmail settlements.”In re Rhone-Poulenc, 51 F.3d 1293, 1298 (7th Cir. 1995) Professor George Priest, himself intensely critical of the rules governing class actions because they permit plaintiffs in class actions to secure substantial settlements even though they have little chance of prevailing, believes that there are judicial decisions refusing to certify class actions, purportedly because the requirements of the controlling rule have not been met, which are really explained by the court’s desire to prevent plaintiffs with a small chance of winning from securing large settlements. George Priest; Procedural Versus Substantive Controls of Mass Torts Class Actions, 26 J. LEGAL STUD. 52 (1997)

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2002 Cambridge University Press

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