Class Action Dilemmas: Pursuing Public Goals for Private Gain

By Deborah R. Hensler; Nicholas M. Pace et al. | Go to book overview
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Appendix C
QUALITATIVE INTERVIEW METHODOLOGY

To better understand the controversy over damage class actions, and especially to learn about trends and issues in class action practice, we interviewed leading class action practitioners. We used a non-random purposive sampling technique aimed at identifying individuals in plaintiff and defense practices and private- and public-sector positions to select respondents.

On the plaintiff side, we interviewed leading class action practitioners who have served as class counsel in myriad lawsuits. We also interviewed plaintiff tort attorneys who oppose class action certification of mass torts; some of the latter nonetheless had represented parties in class actions. We interviewed some plaintiff attorneys whose practices primarily focus on financial injury suits, others whose practices primarily focus on personal injury suits, and some whose practices include a mix of both types. On the defense side, we interviewed corporate (in-house) counsel in a number of different industrial sectors as well as outside defense counsel. In the public interest sector, we interviewed representatives of organizations that have intervened in class action lawsuits as well as those who have represented class members. While all of the private practitioners we interviewed primarily represent parties in damage class actions, several of the public interest lawyers we interviewed generally or sometimes represent parties in other types of class actions. We interviewed a private attorney who has a specialty practice as an intervenor, a staff attorney in a state attorney general's office, and a nonlawyer communications expert who specializes in designing and placing class action notices. Table C.1 shows the distribution of interviews by type of firm or organization. 1

Many of those whom we asked to participate invited colleagues to join them in the interview, or asked us to interview several people in their firm or organization sequentially. As a result, we talked with 70 individuals at 41 firms and organizations. The typical interview lasted for 90 minutes, but some were lengthier and on a few occasions we spent half a day or more at a particular firm or organization. In a few instances, we conducted multiple interviews with a single individual. (We later re-interviewed some of those who participated in this phase of the study for our case study analysis.)

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