on April 27, 2001
This study is likely to remain the last word on class action research for some time to come. The depth and breadth of this study is extraordinary - and so are its revelations.
This is by any standard a major piece of work and we are fortunate that the RAND Institute for Civil Justice has the resources to publish it so fully. The substantial appendices contain much of the detail about methodologies, data collection and calculations that usually have to be omitted from law review articles. Readers can judge for themselves the thoroughness of the researchers and the accuracy of calculations supporting many of their assertions and assumptions.
At heart of this study is the question whether the policing of the public interst and public safety ought to be a function of the state or of "private attorneys general". The study is largely non-judgmental - although you may conclude that this research suggests an answer. There is plenty of ammunition for both points of view to be found in this book.
It is a treasury of fascinating facts about this kind of litigation. It includes the revelation that some attorneys were remunerated at the rate of $2,000 per hour for their efforts - and to think that we thought only mergers and acquisitions lawyers could aspire to that kind of reward!
The only criticism I have to make is that the executive summary that RAND publishes separately is not contained in the book. That is a useful document and its inclusion here would not have added substantially to publication costs but would have enhanced the final product.
on September 7, 2000
Class Action Dilemmas: Pursuing Public Goals For Private Gain is the collaborative effort of Deborah R. Hensler, Nicholas, M. Pace, Bonita Dombey-Moore, Beth Giddens, Jennifer Gross, and Erik K. Moller under the auspices of the Rand Corporation's "Institute for Civil Justice". This in-depth, benchmark study examines newly compiled information about class action law suits and offers a thoughtful discussion of current trends in mass litigation and their implications for the future. Data was collected from extensive interviews with case participants, various electronic sources, court records, and other legal documents. Commentary on the federal class action rule is also reviewed along with the most recent attempt to revise the rule. The contributors discuss the history of the controversy of class action law suits, and present ten illustrative case studies. In addition, proposals for options for reform that may improve the balance of public good and private gain are offered for consideration. Class Action Dilemmas is a very highly recommended addition to professional, governmental, academic, and judicial reference libraries.