AGGREGATE LITIGATION IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT
PROFESSOR LINDA S. MULLENIX
For more than seventy years, the United States has been in the forefront of developing means for resolving injuries to large numbers of people on an aggregate basis. In our modern industrial era, the problem of harm or injury to large numbers of people is not unique to the United States. In addition, civil wars and despotic regimes worldwide have resulted in mass human rights violations and widespread injuries and harms. This course examines the problems related to redress for mass harms in a comparative context. The course begins with an overview of the problem of aggregate harms and approaches to remediating large-scale injuries, including jurisprudential debates centered on litigant claim autonomy. The course then examines American substantive and procedural approaches to resolving mass claims, including critiques of these models. After examining American approaches to mass aggregate claim resolution, the course surveys the similarities and differences between civil law and common law systems, to provide some basis for discussion whether civil law systems are able to support mass resolution of injury claims. The second half of the seminar will focus on the resolution of human rights claims affecting large numbers of victims. This portion of the course investigates various international institutions that might provide auspices for aggregate claim resolution, including the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the European Court of Human Rights, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In addition, the course will examine the American Alien Torts Claim Act, the Torture Victims Protection Act, and the American class action rule, posing the question whether implementation of these statutes in the United States provides a working model for redress of mass injuries. The seminar focuses on a series of case studies to illuminate both the possibilities and limitations of aggregate claim resolution in a global context. These case studies include the Ferdinand Marcos Philippine human rights litigation; the Bosnia-Herzegovina genocide claims; the Austrian ski fire litigation; the Holocaust victims asset litigation; the international tainted blood products litigation; and the Saipan peonage litigation. The seminar concludes with a consideration of the “fund” model for resolving mass claims, focusing on the September 11th Victim’s Compensation Fund. This is a writing seminar and enrolled students will be required to submit papers in this course.