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Any Frequency of Plaintiff Victory at Trial Is Possible

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  • Shavell, Steven

Abstract

A basic question about litigation concerns the frequency of plaintiff victory at trial and how cases that go to trial relate to settled cases. In a stimulating paper, Priest and Klein advanced a model in which there is a tendency for plaintiffs to prevail at trial with probability 50 percent. However, this note demonstrates that, in a simple, frequently employed model of litigation, it is possible for the cases that go to trial to result in plaintiff victory with any probability. Moreover, given any probability of plaintiff victory at trial, the probability of plaintiff victory among settled cases (had they been tried) may be any other probability. Further, data on the frequency of plaintiff victory does not clearly support the 50 percent tendency. In consequence, this note concludes that it does not seem appropriate to regard 50 percent plaintiff victories as a central tendency, either in theory or in fact. Copyright 1996 by the University of Chicago.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Legal Studies.

Volume (Year): 25 (1996)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 493-501

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:25:y:1996:i:2:p:493-501

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLS/

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Cited by:
  1. Magnus Söderberg, 2008. "Uncertainty and regulatory outcome in the Swedish electricity distribution sector," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 79-94, February.
  2. Daniel Friedman & Donald Wittman, 2007. "Litigation with Symmetric Bargaining and Two-Sided Incomplete Information," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(1), pages 98-126, April.
  3. Chopard, Bertrand & Cortade, Thomas & Langlais, Eric, 2010. "Trial and settlement negotiations between asymmetrically skilled parties," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 18-27, March.
  4. Poitras, Marc & Frasca, Ralph, 2011. "A unified model of settlement and trial expenditures: The Priest–Klein model extended," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 188-195, September.
  5. Hylton, Keith N., 2002. "An asymmetric-information model of litigation," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 153-175, August.
  6. Dari-Mattiacci, Giuseppe & Deffains, Bruno & Lovat, Bruno, 2011. "The dynamics of the legal system," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 95-107.
  7. Waldfogel, Joel, 1998. "Reconciling Asymmetric Information and Divergent Expectations Theories of Litigation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(2), pages 451-76, October.
  8. Daniel P. Kessler & Daniel L. Rubinfeld, 2004. "Empirical Study of the Civil Justice System," NBER Working Papers 10825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Gonzalo Ruiz, 2014. "Understanding the Pro-plaintiff Bias in Consumer Protection Legal Processes," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 113-141, March.
  10. Schwab, Christian & Tang, Hin-Yue Benny, 2011. "Die Steuerungswirkungen unterschiedlicher Prozesskostenregelungen: Ein Überblick zum Stand von Theorie und Empirie
    [The economic effects of alternative fee shifting rules: A review of the theoreti
    ," MPRA Paper 32746, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Miceli, Thomas J., 2010. "Legal change and the social value of lawsuits," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 203-208, September.
  12. Keith N. Hylton & Haizhen Lin, 2009. "Trial Selection Theory: A Unified Model," Working Papers 2009-06, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.

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