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Class Actions: The Need for a Hard Second Look

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Publication Date: March 2002

Publisher(s): Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Center for Legal Policy

Author(s): Richard A. Epstein

Topic: Justice (Legal procedure)
Law and ethics (Ethics)
Law and ethics (Civil law)

Keywords: class actions; legal reform

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Class actions are an important procedural device for the amalgamation of individual claims. Used properly, they ensure access to the courts by individuals who would otherwise be denied redress for ordinary grievances. Used incorrectly, class actions become a club to coerce defendants into settling large stakes cases regardless of the merits. Professor Epstein suggests that we need to distinguish the useful from the improper use of class actions and then develop procedural and substantive safeguards in the courts based on this distinction.