Assessing Claims Resolution Facilities

What We Need to Know

by Deborah R. Hensler

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Most contemporary procedures for mass litigation were developed in a slow, reasoned fashion, as a result of professional study, scholarly discourse, judicial decisionmaking, and appellate review. Claims resolution facilities, in contrast, are creatures of necessity. They emerged from a specific litigation, and are the product of compromising the competing interests of parties, attorneys, judges, and other court actors. This article proposes an agenda for research on claims resolution facilities, the results of which could assist in improving the current set of facilities and fashioning better alternatives for the future. The objectives of the proposed research are to describe the outcomes of different facilities, to examine the differences in outcomes among the facilities and between claims facilities and other compensation systems (including the tort liability system), and to develop a better understanding of the relationship between key design and implementation decisions and these outcomes. It discusses the outcomes of interest and the relationships between design and outcomes that merit further investigation, considers the feasibility of collecting systematic empirical data on the claims resolution facilities, and discusses the public interest in research on claims facilities.

Originally published in: Law and Contemporary Problems, v. 53, no. 4, Autumn 1990, pp. 175-188.

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