Anatomy of a Madison County (Illinois) Class Action: A Study of Pathology

61 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2002

See all articles by Lester Brickman

Lester Brickman

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Date Written: August 28, 2002


If per capita class action filing rates were the same nationwide as they are in Madison County, Illinois there would have been over 42,000 class action filings in 2000. One reason for the county's popularity among class action lawyers is its reputation for the propensity of its judges to accommodate class action lawyers' interests.

In this monograph, I focus on a single class action (Schuppert et al. v. Down et al.) filed in Madison County on behalf of hundreds of thousand of mostly elderly Americans who were the victims of a vast mass-marketing scheme conducted by James Blair Down ("Down"), a Canadian citizen. Ironically, if not tragically, the elderly victims of the scheme appear poised to become victims a second time - of "class action" justice in Madison County. A provisional settlement agreement is so abusive of the class's rights that it can only gain final judicial approbation from a court oblivious to the need to protect class members from self-interested behavior by its self-appointed class lawyers. Indeed, if there were an award for the most abusive class action settlement of the decade if not the century, this settlement would be an odds-on favorite to gain the prize. The only possible impediment is a unique confluence of events that is permitting public scrutiny of the settlement - scrutiny that has already had some effect on the judicial proceedings in Madison County.

Keywords: class action, Madison County, Illinois

Suggested Citation

Brickman, Lester, Anatomy of a Madison County (Illinois) Class Action: A Study of Pathology (August 28, 2002). Civil Justice Report, Manhattan Institute, Vol. 6, August 2002. Available at SSRN: or

Lester Brickman (Contact Author)

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )

55 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-790-0327 (Phone)
212-790-0205 (Fax)

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