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Publicly Funded Objectors, Elizabeth Chamblee Burch Jan 2018

Publicly Funded Objectors, Elizabeth Chamblee Burch

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On paper, class actions run like clockwork. But practice suggests the need for tune-ups: sometimes judges still approve settlements rife with red flags, and professional objectors may be more concerned with shaking down class counsel than with improving class members’ outcomes. The lack of data on the number of opt-outs, objectors, and claims rates fuels debates on both sides, for little is known about how well or poorly class members actually fare. This reveals a ubiquitous problem — information barriers confront judges, objectors, and even reformers. Rule 23’s answer is to empower objectors. At best, objectors are a partial fix ...


Repeat Players In Multidistrict Litigation: The Social Network, Elizabeth Chamblee Burch, Margaret S. Williams Jan 2017

Repeat Players In Multidistrict Litigation: The Social Network, Elizabeth Chamblee Burch, Margaret S. Williams

Scholarly Works

As class certification wanes, plaintiffs’ lawyers resolve hundreds of thousands of individual lawsuits through aggregate settlements in multidistrict litigation. But without class actions, formal rules are scarce and judges rarely scrutinize the private agreements that result. Meanwhile, the same principal-agent concerns that plagued class-action attorneys linger. These circumstances are ripe for exploitation: few rules, little oversight, multi-million dollar common-benefit fees, and a push for settlement can tempt a cadre of repeat players to fill in the gaps in ways that further their own self-interest.

Although multidistrict litigation now comprises 36 percent of the entire federal civil caseload, legal scholars have ...