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Does it pay to pollute? Shareholder wealth consequences of corporate environmental lawsuits

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  • Wei, Zuobao
  • Xie, Feixue
  • Posthuma, Richard A.

Abstract

In this paper, we employ the event study methodology to examine shareholder wealth consequences of corporate environmental lawsuits filed in the US Circuit Courts from 1980 to 2001. We find that stocks of defendant firms experience significant negative abnormal returns around the lawsuit filing dates. When the plaintiffs are government entities, the abnormal returns of the defendant stocks are significantly negative. On the other hand, when the plaintiffs are individuals or nonpublic business entities, the abnormal returns are statistically insignificant. When lawsuits are filed under EPA's superfund statute, defendant firms experience significant loss in equity value. For shareholders of the average firm in our sample, the empirical evidence suggests that it does not pay to pollute if the firm is sued.

Suggested Citation

  • Wei, Zuobao & Xie, Feixue & Posthuma, Richard A., 2011. "Does it pay to pollute? Shareholder wealth consequences of corporate environmental lawsuits," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 212-218, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:31:y:2011:i:3:p:212-218
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    1. Brown, Stephen J. & Warner, Jerold B., 1985. "Using daily stock returns : The case of event studies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 3-31, March.
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    3. Stefan Ambec & Paul Lanoie, 2007. "When and Why Does It Pay To Be Green?," CIRANO Working Papers 2007s-20, CIRANO.
    4. Sanjai Bhagat & John Bizjak & Jeffrey L. Coles, 1998. "The Shareholder Wealth Implications of Corporate Lawsuits," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 27(4), Winter.
    5. Edward I. Altman, 1968. "Financial Ratios, Discriminant Analysis And The Prediction Of Corporate Bankruptcy," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 23(4), pages 589-609, September.
    6. A. Craig MacKinlay, 1997. "Event Studies in Economics and Finance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(1), pages 13-39, March.
    7. Cropper, Maureen L & Oates, Wallace E, 1992. "Environmental Economics: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 675-740, June.
    8. Michael E. Porter & Claas van der Linde, 1995. "Toward a New Conception of the Environment-Competitiveness Relationship," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 97-118, Fall.
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    1. repec:eee:jbrese:v:76:y:2017:i:c:p:145-158 is not listed on IDEAS

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