Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

From "Predominance" to "Resolvability": A New Approach to Regulating Class Actions


Allan Erbsen


Class actions incite both delight and disgust. Several complementary themes in popular culture embrace the class action, including sympathy for underdog litigants challenging powerful malefactors, fascination with massive redistributions of wealth from corporations to individuals, and reluctance to permit large and influential wrongdoers to escape justice merely because of their size and clout. Class actions have thus become an appealing procedural counterweight to the burdens that modern society imposes on consumers and citizens, giving many little Davids a fighting chance for protection from or retribution against political and economic Goliaths. But class actions also expose and rile competing visions of the judicial system: suspicion of large-scale judicial proceedings, wariness of high-paid plaintiffs' lawyers, and a sense that society may subsidize the jackpot payouts that often result from group litigation and settlement. These crosscurrents of attraction and repulsion have propelled class actions to a level of political and academic prominence far exceeding the attention devoted to any other aspect of civil procedure.