Revisiting the Monster

New Myths and Realities of Class Action and Other Large Scale Litigation

by Deborah R. Hensler

In previous studies, the author has examined the challenges that mass torts pose to the legal system. In this article, she extends her consideration of mass tort litigation to include what she terms "the new social policy torts": suits against tobacco companies, firearms manufacturers, and managed care organizations that are intended to change public policy. The article presents an analysis of the present nature of class action and other large-scale litigation in the United States. The author discusses varieties of large-scale litigation and presents data on patterns of usage of devices for pursuing such litigation, focusing on damage class actions. The author concludes by offering comments on likely future trends and notes that in order to choose appropriate procedures for resolving the issues surrounding large-scale litigation, careful consideration must be given to the practical consequences of alternative procedures.

Originally published in: Duke Journal of Comparative and International Law, v. 11, no. 2, 2001, pp. 179-213.

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