Locals in Texarkana, Texas, flinch every time they read the coverage of some federal suit being litigated on the floor above their post office. This town, which straddles the border of Arkansas and Texas, is not commonly seen by the national press as a legal hotbed.

But nowadays, about once every other month, courthouse staffers say, some hearings attract a horde of out-of-town lawyers, followed closely by a phalanx of reporters, whose stories are chock full of descriptive narrative that juxtaposes multibillion-dollar business litigation against this sleepy town’s forlorn strip malls, greasy spoons and cheap motels. Among the cases that have come Texarkana’s way: Texas’ $17.3 billion tobacco settlement, the $4 billion Bre-X securities fraud against Lehmann Bros. and a billion-dollar antitrust class action against General Electric.

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