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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

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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 ...