Law 683:  Complex Litigation

This course affords more detailed analysis of a variety of issues students initially encounter in first-year civil procedure with particular attention to the problems of larger, more complex cases. Beginning with an examination of the fallout (in the form of proposals for reform) from the litigation “boom” of the last twenty years, it turns to problems of joinder and consolidation of cases and considers these devices for trying to resolve all disputes arising out of a single event or series of events in one litigation. In particular, substantial attention is given to the functioning of the Judicial Panel of Multidistrict Litigation, which often accomplishes such agglomeration. Against this background, the course turns to the many problems raised by class actions. Using the explosion in the filing of asbestos cases in state and federal courts as a case study, the course affords students the opportunity to evaluate the various joinder devices currently available – and some that are proposed – for resolving these cases.

The course then examines a variety of issues that may arise in complex civil litigation, including discovery issues such as the scope and waiver of evidentiary privileges, the use of protective orders, and the consequences of the growing inclination of federal judges to limit or manage discovery. If time permits, the course also addresses other procedural problems, including implementing remedies in complex litigation, judicial involvement in the settlement process and in the award of attorneys fees, and res judicata/collateral estoppel issues as they arise in complex cases. Finally, the course may briefly consider alternatives to litigation (ADR) that have received increasing attention recently.

Sequence and Prerequisites: Successful completion of Civil Procedure I.

Evaluation: Administered final examination.

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