Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Tulane Law Review Publishes Student Note Discussing Choice-of-Law Complexities in Multi-State Class Actions

The Tulane Law Review has just published a student Note by Jeremy T. Grabill entitled Multistate Class Actions Properly Frustrated By Choice-Of-Law Complexities: The Role Of Parallel Litigation In The Courts, 80 Tulane L. Rev. 299 (2005). Here's an excerpt from the Introduction:

Ongoing concern exists regarding the expenses, delays, and inconsistencies that arise in complex litigation in the bifurcated American judiciary. It is generally accepted that unified treatment of related claims would prevent duplicative parallel litigation, avoid inconsistent outcomes in similar cases, and work to equalize the bargaining power of plaintiffs. Over the last decade, however, choice-of-law complexities have frustrated class treatment of state-law claims in both federal and state courts. Specifically, when a class includes citizens of different states (multistate class action), a court must engage in a choice-of-law analysis to decide whether it can properly select one state's law to apply to all class claims or whether it must instead apply multiple states' laws.

This Comment will discuss the increasing unwillingness of courts to certify multistate classes when this choice-of-law analysis requires the application of multiple states' laws. Conventional wisdom is that the emergence of a choice-of-law roadblock to class certification is a negative development. Accordingly, most scholarship in this area tends to be "problem-solving," and has produced numerous proposals that would allow for unified federal treatment of complex cases. Not only does the literature marginalize the costs of class treatment, but it also fails to recognize the benefits of parallel litigation, namely diversified decisionmaking and respect for state sovereignty.


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