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Information and Externalities in Sequential Litigation

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  • Xinyu Hua
  • Kathryn E. Spier
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    Abstract

    The information created and disseminated through the litigation process can have social value. Suppose a long-lived plaintiff is suing a defendant for damages sustained in an accident. The plaintiff may suffer similar damages in future accidents involving different defendants. Potential injurers update their beliefs after observing the first case and subsequently fine-tune their precautions to avoid accidents. The joint incentive of the plaintiff and the first defendant to create public information through litigation is too small. The optimal liability rule trades off providing future injurers with incentives to take precautions and providing the plaintiff with incentives to create information.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10943.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10943.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2004
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    Publication status: published as Hua, Xinyu and Kathryn E. Spier. “Information and Externalities in Sequential Litigation.” Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 161, 2 (2005): 215-232.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10943

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    1. Che, Yeon-Koo, 1996. "Equilibrium formation of class action suits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 339-361, November.
    2. Kornhauser, Lewis A & Revesz, Richard L, 1994. "Multidefendant Settlements under Joint and Several Liability: The Problem of Insolvency," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 517-42, January.
    3. Shavell, Steven, 1997. "The Fundamental Divergence between the Private and the Social Motive to Use the Legal System," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 575-612, June.
    4. 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.
    5. Spier, Kathryn E, 1994. "Settlement Bargaining and the Design of Damage Awards," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(1), pages 84-95, April.
    6. Che, Y.K. & Yi, J.G., 1991. "The Role of Precedents in Repeated Litigation," Working papers 9120, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    7. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Yeon-Koo Che, 1991. "Decoupling Liability: Optimal Incentives for Care and Litigation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(4), pages 562-570, Winter.
    8. Kaplow, Louis & Shavell, Steven, 1996. "Accuracy in the Assessment of Damages," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(1), pages 191-210, April.
    9. Spier, Kathryn E. & Sykes, Alan O., 1998. "Capital structure, priority rules, and the settlement of civil claims," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 187-200, June.
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