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Civil Justice Report
No. 3  September 2001


They’re Making a Federal Case Out of It . . . In State Court

About the Authors

John Beisner, head of O'Melveny & Myers LLP's 120-attorney Class Action Practice Group, specializes in the defense of purported class actions, mass tort matters, and other complex litigation in both federal and state courts. Over the past twenty years, he has been involved in defending numerous major U.S. and foreign corporations in upwards of 400 purported class actions filed in the federal and state courts of 33 states at both the trial court and appellate level. Those class actions have concerned a wide variety of subjects, including antitrust/unfair competition, consumer fraud, RICO, ERISA, employment/discrimination, environmental, product-related, and securities class actions. He has also handled numerous matters before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, and has also been responsible for proceedings before various federal and state administrative agencies, particularly the National Highway Traffic Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

John is a frequent writer and lecturer on class action and complex litigation issues, and has been an active participant in litigation reform initiatives before Congress, state legislatures, and judicial committees. In recent years, he has frequently testified on class action and claims aggregation issues before the U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees and before state legislative committees. His professional activities include membership in the American Law Institute, the District of Columbia Bar, the State Bar of California, and the American Bar Association.

Jessica Davidson Miller joined O'Melveny & Myers in 1996 and is involved in the firm's litigation and regulatory practices, with a focus on strategic counseling and government relations. Prior to joining O'Melveny, Jessica worked for U.S. Senators Bob Graham and Frank Lautenberg. From 1999-2000, she worked at the Federal Trade Commission as a staff attorney in the Office of General Counsel, focusing on appellate litigation.

Acknowledgements

The data collection for this study was conducted by Stateside Associates, Arlington, Virginia, under the leadership of Samuel B. Witt, III, Senior Vice President and General Counsel. J. Christian Adams, Esq. of the Adams law firm in Fairfax, Virginia provided project management. The following served on the data collection team:

Jennifer Alfisi
Dan Bellingham
Wes Cordova
Bruce Davis
Christopher Fehr
Byron Jackson
Paul Jacobs

Janis Kupiec
Jeff Leahey
Alex Luaders
Kevin Lundy
James Perry
Jonathan Pinkerton
Erik Ridley

Catherine Riggins
Kathy Rowell
Nick Spradlin
John Thomas-Briseno
Richard Warneck
Johanna Wiersig, Esq.

The Manhattan Institute is grateful for the exceptional dedication of all who served on this team. We also thank John H. Beisner and Jessica Davidson Miller for their hard work and commitment to the project.

 


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WHAT THE PRESS SAID:

Study finds Madison County has most class action suits per capita | Associated Press, 9-11-2001
Class-Action Suits Soar In Madison County, Study Says; Think Tank Argues For Moving Cases To Federal Court | St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 9-11-01

SUMMARY:
Increasingly, academics and policy makers are concerned that a handful of state courts, may be effectively making law for 49 other states in addition to their own, or applying their own state law to citizens of other states. This study reveals that the authority to certify national class actions is, in fact, providing local judges with the ability to dictate national policy over a vast array of issues and industries.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

About the Authors

Authors’ Acknowledgements

I. THE IMPETUS FOR EXPANDING FEDERAL JURISDICTION OVER INTERSTATE CLASS ACTIONS.

II. THE EMPIRICAL CASE FOR EXPANDING FEDERAL JURISDICTION OVER INTERSTATE CLASS ACTIONS.

A. The Current Congressional Record.

B. The 2001 County Court Data Collection Effort.

III. THE COUNTY COURT RESEARCH PROJECT: PRIMARY FINDINGS.

A. The County Courts Experienced Class Action Filing Rates That Were Disproportionate To Their Populations.

B. Surprisingly Numerous Cases Involved Named Parties Who Reside Outside The County Court’s Vicinity.

C. The County Courts’ Class Action Dockets Are Monopolized By A Small Cadre Of Out-Of-County Plaintiffs’ Counsel.

D. Many Of The County Court Cases Were “Copy Cat” Class Actions, Duplicative Of Other Pending Litigation.

IV. THE COUNTY COURT SURVEY: THE INDIVIDUAL COURTS AND THEIR CLASS ACTION DOCKETS.

A. Madison County, Illinois: A Projected 3650% Increase In Class Action Filings Over Four Years.

B. Jefferson County, Texas: Class Action Filings Double Over 1998-2000 Period.

C. Palm Beach County, Florida: Class Action Filings Up By 34%.

CONCLUSION

Appendix of Statistical Tables

Table 1: Populations Of Counties Surveyed, With Comparisons To Other Counties With Large Class Action Dockets

Table 2: Retail Sales and Manufacturers Shipments by County, with Comparisons to State and National Values

Table 3: Per Capita Class Action Rate Of Counties Surveyed

Table 4: Repeat Appearances By Plaintiffs’ Counsel

Notes

 


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