Promoting Justice Through Public Interest Advocacy in Class Actions

Document Type


Publication Date

March 2012


Class action litigation is in a dire state. Recent high-profile decisions have highlighted disturbing trends that have been building for years — courts denying certification to classes of individuals whose claims deserve aggregate treatment and ignoring the interests of absent class members. Further, modern class action suits continue to clog court dockets, generate results of dubious worth, and fail to reap the benefits that motivated the enactment of Rule 23. Our flawed representative litigation system not only imposes costs on individuals involved in these suits, but also harms the public as a whole. These adverse impacts justify the introduction of a radical reform — the Public Advocate proposal. This proposal would mandate the addition of third-party litigants — “Public Advocates” — to class action lawsuits. Public Advocates would represent the public’s interests in the proper adjudication and resolution of class action suits. By filling the current system’s representational gap, the Public Advocate proposal would change the fundamental dynamics of class-based litigation and ameliorate many of the problems associated with current class action litigation.