Vanderbilt Law Review

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"It is revolting to have no better reason for a rule of law than that so it was laid down in the time of Henry IV. It is still more revolting if the grounds upon which it was laid down have vanished long since, and the rule simply persists from blind imitation of the past." -Oliver Wendell Holmes'

This Article takes a critical look at the persistence of legal doctrines that prohibit or limit property rights in litigation. The Article focuses on prohibitions on assignment and maintenance. Assignment of personal injury tort claims is prohibited throughout the United States, while the assignment of other claims, such as fraud and professional malpractice, is prohibited in a large number of states. Maintenance, in which a stranger provides something of value to a litigant in order to support or promote the litigation, is prohibited in varying degrees in the United States.

These doctrines might seem quite independent of each other at first glance, but as I will demonstrate below, their persistence in U.S. law is due to their reliance on a common conceptual claim about the very nature of law.