Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Joseph William Singer on Personal Jurisdiction and Choice of Law
Joseph William Singer, Bussey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, has posted to SSRN his article, Hobbes & Hanging: Personal Jurisdiction v. Choice of Law, 64 Ariz. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2022). Here is the abstract:
When conduct in one state causes injury in another state, and the law at the place of injury is more favorable to the victim than the law of the place of conduct, what law applies? Where can suit be brought? The traditional answers are that the law of the place of injury applies but that it may be unconstitutional to sue the tortfeasor in the courts at the place of injury because all the tortfeasor's conduct took place outside the forum. Scholars have long criticized this contradiction, and this Article argues that they are right to do so. If we focus on choice-of-law theory and the emerging choice-of-law rules in the Third Restatement of Conflict of Laws, we see that the argument for applying the plaintiff-protecting law of the place of injury is strong. This Article explains and develops that argument, and it gives us reason to reject the idea that the place of injury courts have no personal jurisdiction over the defendant. Hobbes taught us that the first job of government is to protect us from harm at the hands of others and, as long as it is objectively foreseeable that the conduct could have caused harm in the place of injury, there is no fundamental unfairness or constitutional prohibition on applying place of injury law. If that is so, it is irrational not to allow victims to sue at home where they have been injured. Nor is personal jurisdiction unfair to the defendant. It is time to bring choice-of-law doctrine and personal jurisdiction law more in line with each other, and the right way to do so is to adopt an approach that ensures that victims have civil recourse in their home courts against those who stand across the border engaged in acts that intentionally or predictably cause harm there.
September 27, 2022 in Mass Tort Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, September 26, 2022
Bradt, Clopton, and Rave on Dissonance and Distress in Bankruptcy and Mass Torts
Andrew Bradt, Associate Dean, J.D. Curriculum and Teaching, Faculty Director of the Civil Justice Research Initiative, and Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law; Zachary Clopton, Professor of Law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law; and D. Theodore Rave, Professor of Law, University of Texas at Austin School of Law have posted to SSRN their article, Dissonance and Distress in Bankruptcy and Mass Torts, Fordham L. Rev. (forthcoming). Here is the abstract:
This Essay reviews the highly successful 2022 Fordham Law Review symposium on the Intersection of Aggregate Litigation and Bankruptcy. The symposium brought together judges, scholars, and practitioners who work on multidistrict litigation (MDL), bankruptcy, or both. The symposium was successful because it brought these groups into conversation at a time when high profile mass tort defendants are increasingly turning to bankruptcy to escape MDL, while others involved in the MDL process seek to keep them in. It also was successful—and distressing, in our view—because it highlighted disturbing trends in complex litigation.
This Essay makes two principal observations. First, we document the different ways that MDL and bankruptcy players view their institutions. Even if they share similar goals of achieving lasting resolutions to mass tort disputes, they come from different starting points and stress different values. Civil litigators, including those in MDLs, hue to traditional notions of victims, liability, and adversarial adjudication. Bankruptcy lawyers, meanwhile, focus more on creditors, preserving value, and moving on. Second, we demonstrate that criticisms of MDL’s treatment of individual plaintiffs—both in the symposium and outside it—are being leveraged by defense-side interests seeking to promote bankruptcy as a means of resolving mass torts. Taken together, these two observations reveal a dissonance between the seemingly pro-plaintiff criticisms of MDL and the seemingly pro-defendant use of those criticisms to denigrate MDL in favor of bankruptcy.
September 26, 2022 in Aggregate Litigation Procedures, Mass Tort Scholarship, Procedure | Permalink | Comments (0)
Saturday, September 24, 2022
Linda Mullenix on Assessing the Impact of The Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation
Linda Mullenix, Morris & Rita Altas Chair in Advocacy at University of Texas at Austin School of Law, has posted to SSRN her book chapter, Aggregationists at the Barricades: Assessing the Impact of The Principles of the Law of Aggregate Litigation, in American Law Institute -- A Centennial History (Andrew S. Gold and Robert W. Gordon eds., Oxford University Press forthcoming 2023 ). Here is the abstract:
In 2004 the American Law Institute began work on THE PRINCIPLES OF THE LAW OF AGGREGATE LITIGATION, finally published in 2010. The Principles was addressed to legislatures, administrative agencies, attorneys, private actors, and courts concerning multiparty, multiforum litigation. A purpose of the Principles was to suggest best practices for these institutions and actors.
This essay describes the Principles in the historical context when complex litigation began to dominate federal dockets in the 1980s. It discusses the emergence of a cohort of aggregationists dedicated to liberalizing federal procedure to support, enhance, and encourage the speedy and efficient resolution of complex litigation. The Principles built upon a longstanding ALI concern with the burgeoning and rapidly changing judicial crisis relating to the resolution of complex litigation. The Principles suggested substantial changes in existing class action jurisprudence and judicial case management, recommending more robust embrace of liberalized aggregative procedures. Initially, the Reporters advocated for a root-and-branch revision but, as the essay documents, the final Principles reflected more modest compromises. The essay thoroughly canvasses the proposed recommendations and the subsequent embrace of the proposals.
This essay concludes that while the Principles project has left its mark, courts and legislative bodies still have not addressed or resolved many issues the Principles identified. Since publication most judges seem comfortable with prevailing jurisprudence and not especially interested in rewriting procedural doctrine governing complex litigation. The Principles has not resulted in a root-and-branch revision of aggregate procedure. Rather, reception of the Principles suggests that a more incremental approach to legal reform has prevailed, and the efforts of the avid aggregationists must await another day.
Apart from questions whether the Principles fulfilled its stated purpose, this essay explores fundamental questions about the Institute’s role in moving the law in certain directions based on the goals of committed actors. On one interpretation, the Principles represented a well-intended effort to provide judges with guidance “where there was little established law.” On another, perhaps more problematic view, the Principles represented the desires of actors who, frustrated by judicial resistance to aggregate litigation, used ALI auspices to change the law in a desired direction. These questions go to the heart of the ALI’s role in guiding attorneys, judges, and rulemaking bodies in furtherance of civil justice. Whether the liberalization of aggregate procedure is a desirable goal is a normative question that the ALI Principles project assumed but did not address.
September 24, 2022 in Aggregate Litigation Procedures, Mass Tort Scholarship, Procedure | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, September 23, 2022
Catherine Sharkey on Common Law Tort as Transitional Regulatory Regime and Climate Change Litigation
Catherine Sharkey, Segal Family Professor of Regulatory Law and Policy at NYU School of Law, has posted to SSRN her book chapter, Common Law Tort as a Transitional Regulatory Regime: A New Perspective on Climate Change Litigation, in Climate Liberalism: Perspectives on Liberty, Property, and Pollution (Palgrave: Jonathan Adler ed.) (2022 Forthcoming). Here is the abstract:
This book chapter explores how common law (state or federal) tort law evolves to fill regulatory voids. Particularly in areas that pose emerging, and incompletely understood, health and safety risks, common law tort liability holds out the potential for a dynamic regulatory response, one that creates incentives to develop additional information about potential risks and stimulates innovation to mitigate and/or adapt to these risks. In this temporal model, common law tort plays an essential role in transition, allowing for experimentation with various risk-minimization methods and remedial approaches until optimal approaches emerge which could then be enshrined in more uniform regulations.
The chapter identifies and assesses this dynamic, information-forcing role for common law tort liability in the realm of climate change litigation. In this model, common law tort, rather than a relic of the past, emerges as relevant to the future of environmental risk regulation, as indeed superior to legislation and/or regulation in terms of addressing newly-emergent risks. Moreover, the model suggests that the interaction between common law tort and federal statutes and regulations will remain interactive and dynamic over time.
The chapter then uses climate change litigation as a case study to shed light on the expansion of common law public nuisance to fill a regulatory void in this area, revealing the modern relevance of common law tort in environmental law. The chapter concludes with a preliminary evaluation of the extent to which experimentation among states and municipalities with regard to various adaptation measures fits the optimal model of common law tort in transition, with a final gesture toward forces at play that may stymie the common law’s evolutionary impulses.
September 23, 2022 in Environmental Torts, Mass Tort Scholarship, Regulation | Permalink | Comments (0)