Chapter

SHEDDING LIGHT ON OUTCOMES IN CLASS ACTIONS

Nicholas M. Pace and William Rubenstein

in Confidentiality, Transparency, and the U.S. Civil Justice System

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199914333
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199980185 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199914333.003.0003
SHEDDING LIGHT ON OUTCOMES IN CLASS ACTIONS

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Class actions are among the most public forms of civil litigation. However, a veil of secrecy can fall over class action litigation the moment the judge signs off on the agreement. This chapter describes a study that aims to examine the extent to which claiming data are available and—as necessary—to recommend ways to increase transparency in this area. Specifically, it seeks to find out what types of information are already available about concluded class action settlement distributions; to identify the best sources for such information; and to identify policy options for improving the transparency of class action settlements. It begins with a brief background on the typical class action settlement approval process and how monetary benefits are distributed. It next discusses the results of previous selected empirical studies that have attempted to gather information on distribution outcomes. It examines some of the sources available to judges, class members, and outsiders to help guide and inform their evaluations of proposed class settlements. It then describes the findings from the data collection. The chapter concludes by describing why it is so difficult to gather settlement information, why it is so important to achieve more transparency in this area, and what can be done to make settlement information available to judges, government officials, watchdog organizations, class members, and the public.

Keywords: class action litigation; claims; claiming; secrecy; transparency; settlement

Chapter.  17337 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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