The American Law Institute recently released the final version of its Principles of Aggregate Litigation. Class actions are a type of aggregate litigation, and the first part of the Principles proposed major revisions in the way class actions are handled, as for example in mass torts. The is not a restatement of the law, nor a simple proposed revision of Rule 23; it is more of a start from scratch to deal with practical problems which arise in the formation, operation and settlement of class actions.
"Principles" In Detail
The set of "principles" is small in number, and backed up by little citations. This is perhaps because the reporters felt they had to start a new. Their aim is to modernize the law and bring it into what they perceive as the real world today.) Part of the radical proposals for class action practice in the ALI is to minimize the availability of collateral attack based upon allegations of inadequate representation, sec. 2:07-2:11.
The most controversial part of the proposals deal with settlement of mass torts and how to overcome the rule that each plaintiff must decide separately what he or she wants to do. The authors propose a type of majority rule plan, sec. 3:17. This would perhaps justify a Vioxx type of settlement but would violate current rules against settling a group of cases for a lump sum.
What do you think about the new proposals? Post a comment on our blog, or contact a lawyer at Rheingold, Giuffra, Ruffo & Plotkin LLP.