Professor Nora Freeman Engstrom on The Lessons of Lone Pine

Professor Nora Freeman Engstrom talks about her recent article, The Lessons of Lone Pine. Over the past three decades, Lone Pine orders have become a fixture of the mass-tort landscape. Issued in large toxic-tort cases, these case-management orders require claimants to come forward with certain evidence—or else face dismissal. So far, the orders have been mostly heralded as a way to expedite the resolution of complex cases.Yet it’s not so simple. Engstrom analyzes the drawbacks of Lone Pine orders, including their inconsistent application, incompatibility with formal procedural rules, and misguided insistence on using a binary screen. Given these problems, she concludes that courts ought to scale back their use of these orders. She ties Lone Pine orders to broader currents that are quietly transforming contemporary civil litigation, such as the growth of multidistrict litigation and managerial judging. Weaving these currents together, her study offers fresh insights to deepen—and complicate—our understanding of these profoundly influential phenomena.