Mass Tort Litigation
- Semester: Fall 2019
- Course ID: 370T
- Credit Hours: 3
- Grading Method: Pass/Fail Not Allowed
- Will use floating mean GPA if applicable
- Upperclass-only elective
|MON, WED||11:50 am - 1:05 pm||JON 6.257|
|Take-home||December 12, 2019|
This course examines problems in complex mass tort litigation that emerged during the 1980s and now have become a permanent part of the litigation landscape. Initially, the course surveys the paradigmatic mass tort cases such as those involving the Dalkon Shield, Agent Orange and asbestos litigation to understand and define the peculiar problems arising in the context of mass tort litigation, as opposed to simple two-party tort litigation. During the course we also will examine other mass tort cases involving mass disasters such as Bhopal, Three Mile Island, the Hyatt-Regency Skywalk collapse and the Dupont Plaza Hotel fire; and mass products liability litigation involving bendectin, DES, the silicon breast implant litigation, defective heart valve litigation, repetitive stress injury litigation. We will discuss the evolution of mass tort litigation over a span of fifty years, examining the most recent resolution of the NFL Football League Concussion Litigation. In the first section of the course we deal with jurisprudential issues, including the debate between proponents of aggregative procedure versus litigant autonomy. In an economic framework, we examine the problem of balancing justice, cost, and delay as these values relate to economic efficiency and sound judicial administration. This portion of the course examines special ethical dilemmas in mass tort litigation. The course then canvasses procedural problems entailed in mass tort litigation, including the failures and successes of federal and state procedural rules to adequately handle these massive cases through the class action rule, consolidation, MDL procedure, and preclusion doctrine. We will examine and discuss the shift of mass tort dispute resolution to multi-district litigation auspices, and the issues and problems of resolving these cases through MDL procedures.
The third edition of the casebook addresses mass tort class litigation in a post-Amchem/Ortiz world. New materials have been added concerning expanded use of MDL auspices, bellwether trials, non-class aggregate settlements, the quasi-class action, the aggregate settlement rule, and the ethical duties of attorneys with clients in MDL and non-class proceedings. Two revised chapters focus on challenging issues in mass tort litigation: damage sampling; statistical proof; limited issues classes; multiphase trial plans; sub-classing; and res judicata. New cases have been added that reflect resolution of various pharmaceutical mass torts (Vioxx and Zyprexa); personal injury mass torts (the NFL and Collegiate Athletes concussion litigation); products liability mass torts (the Ford and GMC Ignition Switch litigations; heart-valve cases; tobacco litigation; the moldy washer cases); natural and man-made environmental disasters (the Hurricane Katrina and BP Gulf Oil Spill litigation), and the World Trade Center events. A new chapter includes materials on the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, including the concept of the “mass action.” Finally, the third edition includes materials on so-called “fund approaches” to resolving mass tort litigation.
The casebook for this course is Linda S. Mullenix, MASS TORT LITIGATION; CASES AND MATERIALS (3d ed. 2016)(West Aacdemic Publishing 2016). Prerequisites: Civil Procedure; Torts.