Brian Fitzpatrick’s book, The Conservative Case for Class Actions, wins 2022 Civil Justice Award

Jan 10, 2022

Image of Professor Brian Fitzpatrick at Vanderbilt Law SchoolBrian Fitzpatrick has received the 2022 Civil Justice Scholarship Award from the Pound Institute for his book, The Conservative Case for Class Actions, which was published in 2019 by the University of Chicago Press.

The Pound Institute recognizes one book and one scholarly article each year with the award. Authors must be full-time professors at ABA-accredited law schools who are writing on topics in civil justice, including access to and the benefits of the U.S. civil justice system and the right to trial by jury in civil cases.

Fitzpatrick holds the Milton R. Underwood Chair in Free Enterprise at Vanderbilt Law School, where he has taught since 2007. An expert in federal courts and complex litigation, his research has also examined judicial power and how to structure the judiciary to improve judicial decision-making. He teaches Civil Procedure and upper-level courses in Complex Litigation, Federal Courts and the Federal System, and a seminar on Textualism and Originalism

His award-winning book argues that class action lawsuits function as a form of private enforcement of laws governing free markets, which he believes are essential to ensuring those markets’ long-term viability.

“The class action lawsuit has been a powerful tool for holding companies accountable since the 1960s,” Fitzpatrick said. “All of us, conservatives and liberals alike, believe that markets need at least some rules to thrive, from laws that enforce contracts to laws that prevent companies from committing fraud. Conservatives consider the private sector to be superior to the government in most areas, and this is no less true for policing the market. Class action lawsuits are the private-sector solution to holding companies accountable when they commit misdeeds.”

At its release, The Conservative Case for Class Actions was reviewed in the National Review by Judge Kenneth Lee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, who praised it as “a refreshing antidote that challenges us to reassess our assumptions and think critically without regard to partisan loyalties.”

In announcing the award, the Pound Institute stated: “Brian Fitzpatrick’s book defends class action lawsuits against their most powerful critics: political conservatives, corporations and related institutions. Fitzpatrick convincingly argues that class actions are the most effective way of enforcing laws that ensure a well-functioning market, including laws against corporate misconduct. He also analyzes many potential problems with class actions and potential ways to improve them.”

Fitzpatrick will receive the award at the Pound Fellows reception in Palm Springs, California, on Feb. 14, circumstances permitting.

Faculty News General News Program in Law and Government