The Continuum of Aggregation

17 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2019

See all articles by Alexandra D. Lahav

Alexandra D. Lahav

University of Connecticut - School of Law

Date Written: May 20, 2019


This essay, written for a conference marking the fiftieth anniversary of the multidistrict litigation statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1407, traces the evolution in thinking about aggregation, analyzes the forms of aggregate litigation — the class action, multidistrict litigation (MDL), and bankruptcy — and describes how while they were at first understood to be separate phenomena, they are now understood to comprise a continuum for resolving large-scale disputes. Mass litigation is like water: the cases will move to the form of litigation that is the most likely to lead to closure, be it the class action, a consolidation of individual cases under the auspices of the MDL, or bankruptcy. All forms of aggregation raise the same three problems: (i) horizontal equity between claimants, (ii) the agent-principal problem between claimants and their lawyers, and (iii) the defendants’ and the system’s need for global resolution of litigation.

Keywords: aggregation, MDL, bankruptcy, class action, mass torts, asbestos

JEL Classification: K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Lahav, Alexandra D., The Continuum of Aggregation (May 20, 2019). Georgia Law Review, Vol. 53, No. 4, 2019. Available at SSRN:

Alexandra D. Lahav (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut - School of Law ( email )

65 Elizabeth Street
Hartford, CT 06105
United States

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