Mass tort litigation is inherently complicated. It is no wonder that more and more people are turning to various ADR processes to help them settle claims. And yet there are many others who don’t realize the magnitude of the problems facing them when they file a class action. If they were to believe Hollywood, all it takes is a good-looking counsel or advocate (think Julia Roberts in “Erin Brockovich” or John Travolta in “A Civil Action”) to win a thorny courtroom battle. Not so, according to this article by Geoffrey Parmer, which dissects the key issues involved in class action litigation. Parmer strips class action litigation of its Hollywood-inspired glamour and exposes the myths perpetuated by movies and books.
Class action litigation has been romanticized by such movies as “Erin Brockovich” while being simultaneously vilified in the press as nothing more than a cash cow for unscrupulous attorneys.
Lawyers might spend an afternoon daydreaming of when the “perfect” client will walk through their door with the class action case that will make them a millionaire. The reality, unfortunately, is that the glamour, and sometimes the financial rewards, never follow the Hollywood script. The day that the “perfect” client walks into your office might mark the beginning of a series of pitfalls and financial disasters which could ruin a law practice.
The litigation of mass tort claims requires planning and foresight. More important, it requires a commitment by the attorney to assume a substantial financial risk. This article will provide a broad overview of issues which may arise in class action litigation.