Harm-Less Lawsuits?
What's Wrong with Consumer Class Actions

  • Title:

    Harm-Less Lawsuits?
  • Format:

    Paperback
  • Paperback Price:

    15.00
  • Paperback ISBN:

    084474215-5
  • Paperback Dimensions:

    5.5'' x 8.5''
  • 64 Paperback pages
  • Buy the Book

Consumer class actions often generate billion-dollar verdicts or settlements, even when the plaintiffs’ class is composed entirely of individuals whose harms are purely hypothetical. Typically, these cases proceed under broadly worded state laws against fraud, misrepresentation, unfair business dealing, and the like. The plaintiffs are not required to show that they actually relied, to their detriment, on the defendant’s alleged misrepresentation. Consumers who were injured are explicitly excluded from the class and may obtain separate redress for their harms.

Such “harm-less lawsuits” are supported not only by trial lawyers and ideologically motivated consumer advocacy groups but also, and somewhat perplexingly, by a substantial body of law and economics scholarship. Class actions that encompass all possible claimants, the theory runs, will provide finality and efficient deterrence of wrongful corporate conduct. That view, however, is almost certainly mistaken. When added to existing legal protections and recovery for injured consumers, additional actions on behalf of unharmed consumers will generate double recoveries and excessive deterrence.

Harm-Less Lawsuits? describes the origins of consumer class actions and analyzes their theoretical and practical problems. It concludes that a viable reform agenda must focus not solely on courts and common law tort but rather on the statutory laws that give rise to those actions. To protect against the massive risk of excessive enforcement and deterrence, the private enforcement of consumer protection laws should be closely tied to traditional common law requirements of detrimental reliance and loss causation.

The AEI Liability Studies examine aspects of the U.S. civil liability system central to the political debates over liability reform. The goal of the series is to contribute new empirical evidence and promising reform ideas that are commensurate to the seriousness of America’s liability problems.

Michael S. Greve is the John G. Searle Scholar at AEI, where he directs the AEI Federalism Project and founded the AEI Liability Project in 2003.

Click here to view the full text and press release.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Michael S.
Greve

What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 27
    MON
  • 28
    TUE
  • 29
    WED
  • 30
    THU
  • 31
    FRI
Monday, October 27, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
State income taxes and the Supreme Court: Maryland Comptroller v. Wynne

Please join AEI for a panel discussion exploring these and other questions about this crucial case.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 9:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America

Join Lerman, Wilcox, and a group of distinguished scholars and commentators for the release of Lerman and Wilcox’s report, which examines the relationships among and policy implications of marriage, family structure, and economic success in America.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The 7 deadly virtues: 18 conservative writers on why the virtuous life is funny as hell

Please join AEI for a book forum moderated by Last and featuring five of these leading conservative voices. By the time the forum is over, attendees may be on their way to discovering an entirely different — and better — moral universe.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
A nuclear deal with Iran? Weighing the possibilities

Join us, as experts discuss their predictions for whether the United States will strike a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of the November 24 deadline, and the repercussions of the possible outcomes.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
The forgotten depression — 1921: The crash that cured itself

Please join Author James Grant and AEI senior economists for a discussion about Grant's book, "The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself" (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.