This year’s outbreak of the H1N1 influenza has demonstrated that contagions know few boundaries and spread wherever they can find an available host. Likewise, because of their broad jurisdictional rules, U.S. courts can be easy targets for “forum shopping” by foreign plaintiffs seeking redress against American companies for torts they claim have taken place abroad.

Many of these plaintiffs are impoverished, and the promise of high-damage awards from U.S. juries leads many to go to great lengths to try their claims in American courts. They are encouraged by American trial lawyers working on contingency, an arrangement that lowers the costs of litigation for plaintiffs and creates tempting incentives for lawyers to win judgments at all costs.

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