Political Advances Amid Litigational Defeats: The Indirect Effects of Crimtort Causes
39 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2011 Last revised: 21 Apr 2011
McIntosh and Cates [Multi-Party Litigation: The Strategic Context, 2010] and Silverstein [Law's Allure: How Law Shapes, Constrains, Saves, and Kills Politics, 2009] have argued the severe deficiencies of civil suits and class action litigation for advancing consumerist or regulatory causes. In the proposed paper, we report results of content-analyses that suggest that even lawsuits that were tactical defeats have yielded strategic advantages. Mass-media coverage of litigation against makers or marketers of cigaretees, firearms, silicone implants, and fast or fatty foods reveals that plaintiffs reframe defendants in the court of public opinion even as plaintiffs lose case after case in courtrooms and juryrooms. We focus on crim-torts, the use of civil suits to criminalize corporate defendants, as an public-relations boon even in quixotic crusades.
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