August 20, 2014 Articles

Judicial Quasi-Class Actions

By Deborah A. Elsasser and David L. Schwan

In recent years, there has been much attention directed to the use of class-action principles and procedures to manage mass-tort cases and facilitate aggregate settlements. Some have questioned the development of the “quasi-class action” approach to mass-tort litigation, particularly with respect to the authority of judges to approve or reject settlements in non-class aggregate proceedings. See, e.g., Howard M. Erichson, “The Role of the Judge in Non-Class Settlements,” 90 Wash. U. L. Rev. 1015 (2013); Alexandra N. Rothman, Note, “Bringing an End to the Trend: Cutting Judicial ‘Approval’ & ‘ejection’ out of Non-Class Mass Settlement,” 80 Fordham L. Rev. 319 (2011).

But even those who criticize judicial scrutiny of non-class settlements must agree that complex mass-tort litigation requires close judicial management. So while the debate will continue about judicial authority and the potential intrusion on litigants’ power to control their own claims, it is clear that the “judicial quasi-class action” is here to stay.

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