Podium: High Court Should Review Mass Torts
Vol. 19 Nat'l L.J. A19 (Sept. 30, 1996)
The University of Texas School of Law, Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series Number 502
3 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2013
Date Written: September 30, 1996
Commentary and analysis of the Supreme Court’s opportunity to grant certiorari review in Amchem Prods. Inc. v. Windsor, to decide issues relating to settlement classes in the underlying Georgine nationwide asbestos futures settlement class. The article places the Georgine settlement in the context of two decades of mass tort litigation, including cases such as Agent Orange, Bendectin, DES, Dalkon Shield, tainted blood products, heart valves, silicone breast implants, lead paint, and tobacco products. Federal courts have struggled with mass tort cases for more than twenty-five years and have experimented with almost every procedural means for aggregating and resolving mass torts. Federal courts disagree on how torts may be resolved in the aggregate; on the suitability of Federal Rules 23 or 42 for adjudicating mass torts, standrads for class certification, and most prominently, the standards for settlement classes. In addition, courts disagree about the due process requirements for mandatory classes, the ability to aggregate damages, and the propriety of polyfurcated trial plans. The appeal in Amchem offers the Court the opportunity to clarify doctrine surrounding many of these issues.
Keywords: Amchem Prods. v. Windsor, Georgine v. Amchem Products, mass tort litigation, Rule 23, Rule 42, polyfurcated trial plans, settlement classes
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