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Do Exposure Suits Produce a "Race to File"? An Economic Analysis of a Tort for Risk

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    ()

    (University of Connecticut, Storrs)

  • Kathleen Segerson

    ()

    (University of Connecticut, Storrs)

Conventional tort law does not allow exposure victims to seek compensation until they develop symptoms of illness. Because this may bar recovery if the injurer is judgment proof, some have advocated allowing victims to sue at exposure. However, critics charge that such a tort for risk would create a ``race to file.'' We show that a race may or may not occur in equilibrium, and that when it does occur, not all victims choose to file even if bankruptcy is an inevitable result. We examine the consequences of the possible equilibria on compensation of victims, litigation costs, and injurer care.

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Article provided by The RAND Corporation in its journal RAND Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 36 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (Autumn)
Pages: 613-627

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Handle: RePEc:rje:randje:v:36:y:2005:3:p:613-627
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  1. Kathryn E. Spier, 2002. "Settlement with Multiple Plaintiffs: The Role of Insolvency," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 295-323, October.
  2. Bruce A. Larson, 1996. "Environmental Policy Based on Strict Liability: Implications of Uncertainty and Bankruptcy," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 72(1), pages 33-42.
  3. Shavell, Steven, 1985. "Uncertainty over Causation and the Determination of Civil Liability," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(3), pages 587-609, October.
  4. Diamond, Douglas W & Dybvig, Philip H, 1983. "Bank Runs, Deposit Insurance, and Liquidity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(3), pages 401-19, June.
  5. Schwartz, Alan, 1993. "Bankruptcy Workouts and Debt Contracts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 595-632, April.
  6. Thomas J. Miceli & Kathleen Segerson, 2004. "A Tort for Risk and Endogenous Bankruptcy," Working papers 2004-24, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  7. T. Randolph Beard, 1990. "Bankruptcy and Care Choice," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 21(4), pages 626-634, Winter.
  8. Ringleb, Al H & Wiggins, Steven N, 1990. "Liability and Large-Scale, Long-term Hazards," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(3), pages 574-95, June.
  9. Rose-Ackerman, Susan, 1989. "Dikes, Dams, and Vicious Hogs: Entitlement and Efficiency in Tort Law," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 25-50, January.
  10. Fischer, Michael J, 1996. "Union Carbide's Bhopal Incident: A Retrospective," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 12(2-3), pages 257-69, May.
  11. Shavell, S., 1986. "The judgment proof problem," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 45-58, June.
  12. Deneckere,R. & Peck,J., 1998. "Demand uncertainty, endogenous timing and costly waiting : jumping the gun in competitive markets," Working papers 22, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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