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Informational externalities and settlements in mass tort litigations

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  • Bruno Deffains

    ()

  • Eric Langlais

    ()

Abstract

This paper elaborates on a basic model of mass tort litigation, highlighting the existence of positive informational externalities afforded by the discovery process (as a general technology of production of evidences) in order to study when a class action is formed, or when a sequence of individual trials is more likely. We illustrate the argument that when several plaintiffs file individually a lawsuit against the same tortfeasor, the resolution of the various cases through repeated trials produces positive informational externalities. When class actions are forbidden, these externalities only benefit to the later plaintiffs (through precedents, jurisprudence...). When they are allowed, the first filers may have an incentive to initiate a class action as far as it enables him to benefit from these externalities, through the sharing of information with later filers. We provide sufficient conditions under which a class action is formed, assuming a perfect discovery process. We also show that when contingent fees are used to reward attorneys' services, plaintiffs become neutral to the arrival of new information on their case.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10657-011-9237-8
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal European Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 32 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 241-262

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Handle: RePEc:kap:ejlwec:v:32:y:2011:i:2:p:241-262

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100264

Related research

Keywords: Mass tort class action; Information sharing; Repeated litigation; Contingent fees; K13; K4; H41;

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References

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  1. Marceau, Nicolas & Mongrain, Steeve, 2003. "Damage averaging and the formation of class action suits," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 63-74, March.
  2. Lynk, William J, 1990. "The Courts and the Market: An Economic Analysis of Contingent Fees in Class-Action Litigation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 247-60, January.
  3. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2011. "A dynamic model of lawsuit joinder and settlement," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(3), pages 471-494, 09.
  4. Winand Emons, 2004. "Playing It Safe with Low Conditional Fees versus Being Insured by High Contingent Fees," Diskussionsschriften dp0419, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  5. Winand Emons, 2004. "Conditional versus Contingent Fees," Diskussionsschriften dp0409, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
  6. Steven Shavell, 1989. "Sharing of Information Prior to Settlement or Litigation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(2), pages 183-195, Summer.
  7. Alon Klement, 2004. "Incentive Structures for Class Action Lawyers," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 102-124, April.
  8. Winand Emons & Nuno Garoupa, 2006. "US-style contingent fees and UK-style conditional fees: agency problems and the supply of legal services," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(5), pages 379-385.
  9. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2011. "The case against lawyers’ contingent fees and the misapplication of principal-agent models," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 263-292, October.
  10. Che, Yeon-Koo, 1996. "Equilibrium formation of class action suits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 339-361, November.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Giovanni Battista Ramello, 2011. "Aggregate litigation and regulatory innovation: another view of judicial efficiency," ICER Working Papers 24-2011, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
  2. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, . "Settlement and Trial: Selected Analyses of the Bargaining Environment," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers vuecon-sub-14-00006, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  3. Juergen Backhaus & Alberto Cassone & Giovanni Ramello, 2011. "The law and economics of class actions," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 165-168, October.
  4. Marta Cenini & Barbara Luppi & Francesco Parisi, 2011. "Incentive effects of class actions and punitive damages under alternative procedural regimes," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 229-240, October.

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