The Conservative Case for Class Actions

The Conservative Case for Class Actions

Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226659336

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

This book argues that political conservatives and libertarians should embrace class action lawsuits as the best way to police the marketplace. Contrary to common misperceptions, conservatives and libertarians believe that markets need some rules to form and work well. This raises the question of who is best to enforce the rules? The government? Or the injured persons themselves? Drawing on the theory of privatization, the book shows that, for all the same reasons they prefer private-sector solutions to other problems, they should prefer the so-called “private” attorney general over the public attorney general. For small harms, this means private class action lawyers. This is not just theory. Empirical studies show that many of the arguments critics make about class actions are not accurate: class actions are not meritless lawsuits, lawyers do take all of the money in fees, and class actions improve deterrence of misconduct. Nonetheless, the current system is not perfect. The book concludes with a few suggested reforms to make the system even better.