View all Events

Magnet Courts: If You Build Them, Claims Will Come

Tuesday April 2003


John H. Beisner Head, O’Melveny & Myers Class Action Group

Major national policy choices are increasingly being made by county courts elected by, and accountable only to, the several thousand residents of their home communities. Trial lawyers congregate at the most permissive local venues in a “race to the bottom” that substantially raises the “tort tax” on the American economy. This “magnet court” phenomenon presents a serious threat to the due process protections and the federalism principles underlying our constitutional design. The class action reform bill currently before Congress is intended to address this very problem.

John Beisner has recently published his third Civil Justice Report for the Center for Legal Policy, One Small Step For A County Court Judge…One Giant Calamity For The National Legal System. His two earlier articles documented how certain magnet courts were ignoring basic, long-standing class action principles to take massive national claims. This new Civil Justice Report looks at another claims aggregation device, the “mass action,” which is being used by some local courts to declare themselves the national arbiters of critical legal issues without the safeguards of class action litigation.

In this luncheon forum, Mr. Beisner will discuss the data and findings from all three of his Civil Justice Reports. Steven Fineman, a major mass tort lawyer, will offer a response from the plaintiffs’ bar point of view. Please join us for this lively discussion of class and mass action litigation in America’s state courts.