Class actions serve the obvious social purpose of permitting a large number of claimants with small claims to assert those claims, a simple strength in numbers concept. But there are problems in dealing with mass torts and a nationwide class. To be useful, the class action device must advance the efficiency and economy of litigation which is a principal purpose of the procedure. General Telephone Co. of Southwest, 457 U.S. at 159 (quoting American Pipe & Construction Co. v. Utah, 414 U.S. 538, 5153 (1974)).
Speaking generally, there is an inherent clash between efficiency and fairness, between those concerned with the high public and private cost of duplicative litigation and those committed to an individual’s right to control litigation involving personal interests. John J. Coffee Jr., “Class Wars: The Dilemma of the Mass Tort Class Action,” 95 Colum. L. Rev. 1343, 1346 (1995).
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