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Fly by Night or Face the Music? Premature Dissolution and the Desirability of Extended Liability

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  • James Boyd
  • Daniel E. Ingberman

Abstract

Premature dissolution can be a rational corporate response to the threat of future liability. Although early dissolution is costly to a firm, liability may be more so. The way in which liability rules can exacerbate this extreme form of liability avoidance is of interest, since "fly-by-night" firms generate particularly large social costs. In particular, we explore the consequences of liability that is extended to the business partners of an insolvent or absent tortfeasor--a relatively common legal response when tortfeasors abandon obligations. Extended liability can be desirable; however, if extended liability is anticipated, business partners themselves may choose to fly by night. We show how the preferred liability rule, including no liability, depends on the relative costs of premature dissolution and future obligations. The analysis also sheds light on a set of interrelated legal issues, such as the role of the trust fund doctrine and state dissolution statutes. Copyright 2003, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • James Boyd & Daniel E. Ingberman, 2003. "Fly by Night or Face the Music? Premature Dissolution and the Desirability of Extended Liability," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 189-232.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:5:y:2003:i:1:p:189-232
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    Cited by:

    1. van 't Veld, Klaas, 2006. "Hazardous-industry restructuring to avoid liability for accidents," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 297-322, September.
    2. Hutchinson, Emma & van 't Veld, Klaas, 2005. "Extended liability for environmental accidents: what you see is what you get," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 157-173, January.
    3. Langinier, Corinne & Marcoul, Philippe, 2009. "Contributory infringement rule and patents," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 296-310, May.
    4. Eberhard Feess & Gerd Muehlheusser & Ansgar Wohlschlegel, 2009. "Environmental liability under uncertain causation," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 28(2), pages 133-148, October.

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