Resolving MASS Tort Claims: The Perspective of A Special Master - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 53, No. 1
Kenneth R. Feinberg
The author is a nationally recognized expert in ADR who has acted as a courtappointed special master in a number of highly visible masstort litigations. He has served on two presidential commissions inquiring into the implications of radiation exposure on American citizens, and was chairman of the American Arbitration Association Task Force on Alternative Dispute Resolution and Mass Torts.
The author draws on his experience as a special master in mass-tort litigations to present an examination of the use of ADR in mass torts and the complex array of issues involved in the process.
The past 15 years have witnessed a proliferation of mass-tort litigation in our federal and state courts. Beginning with the Agent Orange litigation and continuing with, for example, Dalkon Shield, asbestos, DES, heart valves, breast implants and pedicle screws, our courts have responded with creative approaches designed to clear dockets and bring justice to thousands of alleged victims. Today, the latest mass tort is now front and center, as the growing dispute over dietary supplements has led to the aggregation of claims for pretrial purposes in the federal court in Philadelphia. Such litigation raises profound questions concerning the ability of our civil justice system to deliver justice in a prompt and efficient fashion to plaintiff, defendant and the public alike. Recent decisions by the Supreme Court in cases such as Amchem and Metro North call into question the ability of our courts to respond to the challenge of mass-tort litigation characterized by thousands of claims and difficult qualitative legal issues of causation, liability and damage.