Some describe civil litigation as little more than a drag on the economy; Others hail it as the solution to most of the country's problems. Stephen C. Yeazell argues that both positions are wrong. Deeply embedded in our political and economic systems, civil litigation is both a system for resolving disputes and a successful business model, a fact that both its opponents and its fans do their best to conceal. Lawsuits in a Market Economy explains how contemporary civil litigation in the United States works and how it has changed over the past century. The book corrects common misconceptions--some of which have proved remarkably durable even in the face of contrary evidence--and explores how our constitutional structure, an evolving economy, and developments in procedural rules and litigation financing systems have moved us from expecting that lawsuits end in trial and judgments to expecting that they will end in settlements. Yeazell argues that today's system has in some ways overcome--albeit inconsistently--disparities between the rich and poor in access to civil justice. Once upon a time, might regularly triumphed over right. That is slightly less likely today--even though we continue to witness enormous disparities in wealth and power. The book concludes with an evaluation of recent changes and their possible consequences.
Stephen Yeazell is the Dallas P. Price and David G. Price Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.