Saturday, June 25, 2016

New Book on Class Actions in Context: How Culture, Economics and Politics Shape Collective Litigation

A new book, Class Actions in Context: How Culture, Economics and Politics Shape Collective Litigation, has been published by Edward Elgar Publishing (also available on Amazon).  The editors of the book are Associate Dean Deborah Hensler (Stanford Law) and Professors Christopher Hodges (Oxford) and Ianika Tzankova (Tilburg Law).  A global group of aggregate-litigation scholars contributed to the book, including Dean Camille Cameron (Dalhousie Law, Canada); Associate Dean Manuel Gomez (Florida International Law); Professors Agustin Barroilhet (U. Chile Law), Naomi Creutzfeldt (Research Fellow, Oxford), Axel Halfmeier (Leuphana U., Germany), Kuo-Chang Huang (Member, Taiwan national congress and formerly of National Cheng-Chi U., Taiwan), Jasminka Kalajdzic (Windsor Law, Canada), Alon Klement (Tel-Aviv U., Israel), Elizabeth Thornburg (SMU Law), and Stefaan Voet (U. Leuven & U. Hasselt, Belgium); and myself.  

I authored a chapter, The promise and peril of media and culture: The Toyota unintended acceleration litigation and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility in the United States, and Professor Ianika Tzankova and I co-authored another chapter, The culture of collective litigation: A comparative analysis.    

The book was a remarkable and fascinating undertaking, with many of us contributors gathering at several conferences across the globe over recent years to discuss and compare our ongoing research.  Here is a brief description of the book:

In recent years collective litigation procedures have spread across the globe, accompanied by hot controversy and normative debate. Yet virtually nothing is known about how these procedures operate in practice. Based on extensive documentary and interview research, this volume presents the results of the first comparative investigation of class actions and group litigation ‘in action’.

Produced by a multinational team of legal scholars, this book spans research from ten different countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, including common law and civil law jurisdictions. The contributors conclude that to understand how class actions work in practice, one needs to know the cultural factors that shape claiming, the financial arrangements that enable or impede litigation and how political actors react when mass claims erupt. Substantive law and procedural rules matter, but culture, economics and politics matter at least as much.

This book will be of interest to students and scholars of law, business and politics. It will also be of use to public policy makers looking to respond to mass claims; financial analysts looking to understand the potential impact of new legal instruments; and global lawyers who litigate transnationally.

We are honored that Professor Geoffrey Hazard (Emeritus, UC Hastings Law & Penn Law) offered the following comment on the book:

Class Actions in Context is a penetrating analysis of class and group actions worldwide. A group of international scholars brings to bear legal, economic, and political analyses of this evolving judicial remedy. It explores various substantive claims ranging from consumer protection to securities litigation. Drawing on case studies of practice as well as legal analysis, it demonstrates the importance of factors running from litigation finance to background cultural traditions. It is worth study in every legal system.


June 25, 2016 in Aggregate Litigation Procedures, Class Actions, Environmental Torts, Lawyers, Mass Tort Scholarship, Procedure, Products Liability, Travel, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Trust, VW Brand Management, and Emissions Litigation

Harvard Business Review has a an article, What VW Didn't Understand About Trust, by Andrew Wilson.  As perhaps occurred in the Toyota Unintended Acceleration Litigation, VW may be motivated to settle somewhat swiftly any civil litigation or regulatory or criminal inquiries and fines, as part of a larger strategy to regain the public's trust and preserve its brand.   

September 23, 2015 in Class Actions, Products Liability, Travel, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Economist on VW Share-Price Drop and Emissions-Related Fines

The Economist has posted an article, Why Volkswagen’s share price has fallen so far.

September 23, 2015 in Regulation, Travel, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Growing VW Emissions Litigation, and Potential Parallels to the Toyota UAL Litigation

Sunday, March 23, 2014

2014 Vancouver Summer Law Program and Global Tort Litigation Course

I'm serving as Co-Director of Southwestern Law School's 2014 Vancouver Summer Law Program, which is offered in collaboration with the University of British Columbia Faculty of Law and the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy.  All classes will take place at the University of British Columbia's new Allard Hall, which was completed in 2011 at a cost of $56 million.  On-campus housing at St. Andrew's Hall next to the law school may also be arranged through the summer law program.  The program will run from May 25 to June 25, 2014.  Here is the brochure.  

One of the courses offered will be a course on Global Tort Litigation, which I'll be co-teaching with Professor Jasminka Kalajdzic of the University of Windsor.   Other courses include comparative criminal procedure, international environmental law, and comparative sexual orientation law; students may elect to take two courses for four units, or three courses for six units.  

We welcome applications from students in good standing at an ABA-approved or state-accredited American law school or accredited Canadian law school.  Special reduced tuition rates are available for Canadian law students.  Come join us in beautiful Vancouver, Canada!


March 23, 2014 in Aggregate Litigation Procedures, Environmental Torts, Foreign, Procedure, Products Liability, Punitive Damages, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Possible Toyota Mass Settlement in Unintended Acceleration Cases

Article in the Los Angeles Times:  Toyota looks to settle sudden-acceleration lawsuits, by Ken Bensinger.  I'm quoted in the article.


December 15, 2013 in Products Liability, Settlement, Travel, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thomas J. Donahue on "Tort Tourism" in Foreign Courts

Thomas J. Donahue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has an op-ed entitled, U.S. Firms Prone To 'Tort Tourism' In Foreign Courts, in Investor's Business Daily.  The op-ed particularly discusses the Chevron case in Ecuador. 


July 18, 2012 in Environmental Torts, Foreign, Lawyers, Procedure, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Toyota Settles Unintended Acceleration Lawsuit

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Toyota has settled, for an undisclosed amount, an unintended-acceleration lawsuit involving the deaths of four persons.  The accelerator appeared to have been caught in the floormat.  The article notes that Toyota faces about 200 unintended-acceleration lawsuits.


September 19, 2010 in Products Liability, Settlement, Travel, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Walter Olson Attempts to Defuse the Toyota Panic

His article, Exorcising Toyota’s Demons, was published today in the National Review online.


March 15, 2010 in Lawyers, Products Liability, Regulation, Science, Travel, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Array of Lawsuits Expected Against Toyota

Professor David Owen (South Carolina) and I are quoted in a report tonight on All Things Considered on National Public Radio; the audio report -- Toyota Seen Facing Multiple Lawsuits, by Wendy Kaufman -- will also be posted on the web tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST.


February 22, 2010 in Aggregate Litigation Procedures, Class Actions, Informal Aggregation, Lawyers, Procedure, Products Liability, Regulation, Resources - Federal Agencies, Travel, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Crisis Prevention and Toyota's Corporate Culture

The Economist suggests a connection between Toyota's continuing manufacturing problems and a corporate culture that fails to raise problems because it is overly deferential.  I have separately heard that Asian airplane co-pilots have had to be specifically trained to overcome their traditional cultural deference and challenge the actions of pilots, if warranted, in emergency situations.  Here's an excerpt from article:

Toyota’s problems are its alone, but they highlight broader failings in Japanese corporate governance that make large companies particularly vulnerable to mishandling a crisis in this way. Such firms typically have a rigid system of seniority and hierarchy in which people are reluctant to pass bad news up the chain, thus keeping information from those who need to hear it in a misguided effort to protect them from losing face. In many firms, including Toyota, family ties make challenging the boss all but impossible. Any attempt to short-circuit the hierarchy is deemed an act of disloyalty and a violation of the traditional consensual corporate culture. Groupthink becomes entrenched because there is so little mobility between companies: hiring from outside is thought to disrupt a firm’s internal harmony, and an executive willing to move will be stained as a disloyal “job-hopper”. This further hinders firms’ ability to take bold, decisive action. The preference for harmony crowds out alternative viewpoints.


February 14, 2010 in Products Liability, Travel, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, June 26, 2009

NTSB Finds Identifies Two New Instances of Airbus-Sensor Problems

Article in the Wall Street Journal -- Safety Board Cites Two New Reports of Problems With Airbus Sensors, by Andy Pasztor.  Here's an excerpt:

U.S. air-crash investigators are looking into two recent incidents in which they believe Airbus A330 jetliners suffered airspeed sensor malfunctions similar to those being examined in the crash of Air France Flight 447 last month.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday identified separate malfunctions on two different airlines that ended with safe landings over the past few weeks. They appear to describe the same type of malfunction -- triggering a loss of autopilot and automatic-throttle -- that investigators believe occurred on the Air France A330 shortly before it crashed May 31 en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in stormy weather.

Such airspeed issues aren't enough to bring down a jetliner. Investigators in the Air France crash suspect a combination of turbulent weather, possible computer glitches, pilot actions and perhaps other factors combined to put the jet into a fatal dive.


June 26, 2009 in Mass Disasters, Products Liability, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)