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The Litigation Explosion: What Happened When America Unleashed the Lawsuit

Walter Olson, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute (Truman Talley Books, 1991)

The Litigation Explosion.Our editor’s first book, The Litigation Explosion documents how America has become the most litigious society in the world. This is the book that adviser Karl Rove gave President George W. Bush, then a gubernatorial candidate, to educate him on tort reform. Says, "Walter K. Olson is fast becoming the legal world's foremost whistleblower. . . . Olson makes complex legal issues understandable to people without law degrees. In The Litigation Explosion, he tells of how the United States turned into the world's most litigious society. The account is entertaining because Olson is a good writer, but also infuriating because the problems he describes are severe-ambulance-chasers, junk litigation, and plaintiff awards that line the pockets of lawyers instead of the victims they allegedly represent. A good book for everybody, but a must-read for those in the legal profession." Chapter 2 – A PIECE OF THE ACTION: The Triumph of the Contingency Fee Chapter 2 describes how the system of contingency fees, in which plaintiffs’ attorneys work not for an hourly rate but for a percentage of any ultimate verdict, evolved to become the driving force behind tort litigation in America. Chapter 4 – HAPPIER HUNTING GROUNDS Chapter 4 explores the evolution of long-arm jurisdiction, in which defendants can be dragged into court in locations far away from home. Chapter 9 – HAVE LAWSUIT, WILL TRAVEL Chapter 9 explains how choice-of-law rules evolved to make extraterritorial forum shopping so attractive. Chapter 15 – STRICT LIABILITY FOR LAWYERING Although the first part of chapter 15, on Rule 11 (the mechanism for sanctioning lawyers who bring frivolous suits), is out of date, the latter section, on “loser pays” systems, remains one of the best discussions on the topic and a template for legal reform.

Loser Pays

Download PDFs: Chapter 2 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 15



Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.