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The effect of joint and several liability under superfund on brownfields

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  • Chang, Howard F.
  • Sigman, Hilary

Abstract

In response to claims that the threat of environmental liability under the Superfund law deters the acquisition of potentially contaminated sites (or "brownfields") for redevelopment, the federal government has adopted programs to protect purchasers from liability. This protection may be unwarranted, however, if sellers can simply adjust property prices downward to compensate buyers for this liability. We present a model of joint and several liability under Superfund that allows us to distinguish four different reasons that this liability may discourage the purchase of brownfields. The previous literature has overlooked the effects that we identify, which all arise because a sale may increase the number of defendants in a suit to recover cleanup costs. Our analysis suggests that the brownfields problem may be more widespread than one might infer from the prior literature. Furthermore, the effects that we identify may distort not only the incentives to sell property subject to Superfund liability but also any decision of any party subject to any joint and several liability if that decision could affect the number of other defendants liable for the same harm.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Review of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 27 (2007)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 363-384

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Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:27:y:2007:i:4:p:363-384

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/irle

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  1. Boyd, James & Harrington, Winston & Macauley, Molly K, 1996. "The Effects of Environmental Liability on Industrial Real Estate Development," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 37-58, January.
  2. Kris Wernstedt & Peter B. Meyer & Anna Alberini, 2006. "Attracting private investment to contaminated properties: The value of public interventions," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(2), pages 247-369.
  3. Hilary Sigman, 2010. "Environmental Liability and Redevelopment of Old Industrial Land," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(2), pages 289-306, 05.
  4. Klerman, Daniel, 1996. "Settling Multidefendant Lawsuits: The Advantage of Conditional Setoff Rules," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(2), pages 445-62, June.
  5. Kathleen Segerson, 1994. "Property Transfers and Environmental Pollution: Incentive Effects of Alternative Policies," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 70(3), pages 261-272.
  6. Tom H. Tietenberg, 1989. "Indivisible Toxic Torts: The Economics of Joint and Several Liability," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 65(4), pages 305-319.
  7. Chang, Howard F & Sigman, Hilary, 2000. "Incentives to Settle under Joint and Several Liability: An Empirical Analysis of Superfund Litigation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 205-36, January.
  8. Kornhauser, Lewis A & Revesz, Richard L, 1994. "Multidefendant Settlements: The Impact of Joint and Several Liability," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 41-76, January.
  9. Segerson Kathleen, 1993. "Liability Transfers: An Economic Assessment of Buyer and Lender Liability," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages S46-S63, July.
  10. Donohue, John J, III, 1994. "The Effect of Joint and Several Liability on the Settlement Rate--Mathematical Symmetries and Metaissues about Rational Litigant Behavior: Comment," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 543-58, January.
  11. Kahan, Marcel, 1996. "The incentive effects of settlements under joint and several liability," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 389-395, December.
  12. Wernstedt, Kris & Alberini, Anna & Heberle, Lauren & Meyer, Peter, 2004. "The Brownfields Phenomenon: Much Ado about Something or the Timing of the Shrewd?," Discussion Papers dp-04-46, Resources For the Future.
  13. Spier, Kathryn E, 1994. "A Note on Joint and Several Liability: Insolvency, Settlement, and Incentives," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 559-68, January.
  14. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Rubinfeld, Daniel L., 1988. "The deterrent effects of settlements and trials," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 109-116, June.
  15. Easterbrook, Frank H & Landes, William M & Posner, Richard A, 1980. "Contribution among Antitrust Defendants: A Legal and Economic Analysis," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 331-70, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Endres, Alfred & Friehe, Tim, 2011. "Incentives to diffuse advanced abatement technology under environmental liability law," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 30-40, July.
  2. Hilary Sigman & Sarah Stafford, 2011. "Management of Hazardous Waste and Contaminated Land," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 255-275, October.
  3. Sheila M. Olmstead, 2010. "The Economics of Water Quality," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 4(1), pages 44-62, Winter.
  4. Hilary Sigman, 2006. "Environmental Liability and Redevelopment of Old Industrial Land," Departmental Working Papers 200609, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  5. Linn, Joshua, 2012. "The Effect of Voluntary Brownfields Programs on Nearby Property Values: Evidence from Illinois," Discussion Papers dp-12-35, Resources For the Future.

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