by Deepak Gupta
I'm pleased to introduce a new feature here at the Consumer Law & Policy blog--an on-line book club. From time to time, we'll invite an author of an interesting book or article on consumer law to visit the blog and provoke a discussion about what they've written. The author will offer a few introductory comments to set the stage and then we'll post the relevant piece--usually an excerpt--and invite you to comment.
This blog is ostensibly about "consumer law," but we haven't once stopped to discuss what that term means or why we have a distinct body of consumer law. It seems appropriate, then, to begin the book club experiment with a text that explores some foundational questions about modern consumer law. In this case, those questions are explored from a decidedly external, critical perspective.
We've invited Michael S. Greve, the John G. Searle Scholar and Director of the Federalism Project at the American Enterprise Institute, and an adjunct scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, to discuss his book on consumer class actions. Dr. Greve's research interests include federalism, constitutional law, environmental policy, and Internet regulation. He founded and, from 1989 to 2000, was executive director of the Center for Individual Rights (CIR), and was also previously a resident scholar at the Washington Legal Foundation. Dr. Greve earned his Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University in 1987.
Dr. Greve's book, Harm-Less Lawsuits, argues that consumer class actions brought by consumers who have not themselves been injured, on top of existing protections for injured consumers, "punish corporate defendants twice for the same conduct . . . In allowing both types of suits (without one foreclosing the other), we have two liability regimes operating on top of one another, over the same range of transactions. Such a dual regime is bound to deter a wide range of productive activity, without serving a sensible public purpose."