The New Lawsuit Ecosystem: Trends, Targets and Players

October 23, 2013

The New Lawsuit Ecosystem: Trends, Targets and Players, a first-of-its-kind analysis of America’s multi-billion dollar lawsuit industry, brings together leading practitioners from a wide range of fields to closely analyze emerging litigation trends and also includes a review of the growing alliance between state attorneys general and plaintiffs’ lawyers.  In addition, the report identifies industries most frequently targeted by the plaintiffs’ bar, those eyed as future targets, and, for the first time, identifies the individual plaintiffs’ lawyers and law firms driving this industry.

This research examines trends and offers insights into the six core areas of litigation: class actions, mass torts, asbestos, securities and mergers and acquisitions, False Claims Act, and wage and hour litigation.  Among its findings is an explosion of abusive M&A litigation with multiple extortionate lawsuits filed within days of any major corporate announcement, a near doubling of False Claim Act qui tam litigation over just four years, and a questionable surge of lawsuits claiming that asbestos exposure resulted in workers developing lung cancer.

Areas of law where entrepreneurial plaintiffs’ lawyers are prospecting for new liability are explored, including class actions against food makers, data privacy lawsuits, claims against brand-name drug manufacturers for injuries allegedly stemming solely from generic products, “patent troll” litigation, and attempts to bring claims on behalf of people who have experienced no injury.  For example, the reports finds that a small group of plaintiffs’ lawyers filed nearly 150 class actions against food makers since 2011, with more than half filed in California courts.  Some law firms reuse the same people over and over as plaintiffs, attack advertising that the plaintiff never saw or relied on, and even challenge the marketing of products that the plaintiff never bought.  The report also examines the evolution of medical monitoring claims at the state and federals levels.

The report identifies another troubling trend: state attorneys general growing alliance with private plaintiffs’ lawyers.  Private plaintiffs’ lawyers often develop the theories for the lawsuit and “pitch” it to state officials as a money-making enterprise.  The report finds that such lucrative litigation, which began with the multi-state litigation against the tobacco industry in the 1990s, has expanded to virtually every industry.  Prime targets currently include pharmaceutical makers, financial institutions, and energy firms.  A recent proposal by plaintiffs’ lawyers to state AG’s to sue “big food” – exposed by the report – exemplifies how plaintiffs’ lawyers continue their attempts to use the tobacco model to attack other American businesses. 

Although courts have taken little action to address the ethical and due process concerns arising when profit-motivated lawyers enforce state law, the report shows that state legislatures are responding by adopting safeguards on the hiring, oversight, and payment of private attorneys by state officials.

 

Related Resources

Asbestos Information

Issues

Over the past forty years, asbestos-related litigation has forced nearly 100 companies into bankruptcy – devastating workers, retirees, shareholders and affected communities. Read More

Class Actions Information

Issues

Class actions were developed as a form of lawsuit in which a group of people claiming similar injuries or damages could sue the same company or organization together. Read More

False Claims Act (FCA) Information

Issues

Originally enacted during the Civil War to fight profiteering by suppliers to the Union Army, the False Claims Act has evolved into a sweeping statute covering nearly every company doing business with the federal government. Read More

Lawsuit Abuse Impact Information

Issues

America has the world’s costliest legal system. Read More

Medical Liability Information

Issues

At a time of mounting concerns about health care costs, America’s broken medical liability system stands as a major culprit – raising costs and hampering quality of care for millions. Read More

Securities Litigation Reform Information

Issues

Private securities class actions are lawsuits filed on behalf of shareholders against publicly–traded companies that allegedly defrauded their investors. Read More

State Attorneys General Information

Issues

For the past twenty years, state attorneys general have played an increasingly prominent role in enforcing laws and regulations affecting the business community. Read More

State Legal Reforms Information

Issues

Under the federal structure of the United States, both the federal government and the states have a role in addressing the problem of lawsuit abuse. Read More

In the News Today - September 2, 2015

September 02, 2015 | Insights

A federal judge granted class action status to a lawsuit brought by three Uber drivers against the ride sharing company. ILR posted about this case yesterday. The decision means as many as 160,000 Uber drives could join the case, which seeks to have the drivers classified as employees rather than independent contractors. (Wired) Read More »

Report Spotlights Pennsylvania AG's Relationship with Cohen Milstein; Cites ILR Criticism

September 02, 2015 | Insights

The Pennsylvania Independent spotlights Attorney General Kathleen Kane's close relationship with plaintiffs' firm Cohen Milstein. The report highlights Kane's suit against a chain of nursing homes in which "she had backup" from Cohen Milstein - a deal that allows the firm "to siphon off a large cut of any fines imposed upon the nursing homes." Read More »