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Class actions, which are civil cases in which parties initiate a lawsuit on behalf of other plaintiffs not specifically named in the complaint, often make the headlines, especially when they result in settlements affecting millions of class members and requiring millions of dollars in restitution. They have also aroused vocal policy debates, as exemplified during the deliberations of the U.S. Congress prior to the enactment of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. But despite this long-standing interest, policymakers and the public know very little about the majority of class actions filed in this country-their numbers, their dynamics, or their outcomes. RAND used a defendant-based survey to collect original data on both state and federal insurance class actions, and also surveyed state departments of insurance to learn more about the interests of regulators in the issues litigated by the parties in these cases. This book presents the results. With these data, we are able to describe important characteristics of the litigation, including what types of classes are sought, where these cases are being filed, what allegations are made, how these cases are resolved, how much time it takes to bring them to resolution, and the possible impact of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Summary of Methodological Approach

  • Chapter Three

    Survey Results

  • Chapter Four

    Issues Related to Regulation

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusions

  • Appendix A

    Anatomy of an Insurance Class Action

  • Appendix B

    Previous Research on Class Action Litigation

  • Appendix C

    State Departments of Insurance Survey Results

The research described in this report was conducted by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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