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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Shavell, Steven, 1996. "Any Frequency of Plaintiff Victory at Trial Is Possible," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(2), pages 493-501, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:25:y:1996:i:2:p:493-501
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/467986
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    Cited by:

    1. Anthony Niblett & Richard A. Posner & Andrei Shleifer, 2010. "The Evolution of a Legal Rule," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(2), pages 325-358.
    2. 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.
    3. Michael Heise, 2013. "Empirical Analysis of Civil Litigation: Torts Trials in State Courts," Chapters,in: Research Handbook on the Economics of Torts, chapter 1, pages 11-30 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. 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.
    5. Lee, Yoon-Ho Alex & Klerman, Daniel, 2016. "The Priest-Klein hypotheses: Proofs and generality," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 59-76.
    6. 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 451-476, October.
    7. Holger Sieg, 2000. "Estimating a Bargaining Model with Asymmetric Information: Evidence from Medical Malpractice Disputes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 1006-1021, October.
    8. 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.
    9. Dari-Mattiacci, Giuseppe & Deffains, Bruno & Lovat, Bruno, 2011. "The dynamics of the legal system," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(1-2), pages 95-107, June.
    10. Thomas J. Miceli, 2009. "Legal Change: Selective Litigation, Judicial Bias, and Precedent," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 157-168, January.
    11. 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.
    12. Timur Kuran & Scott Lustig, 2012. "Judicial Biases in Ottoman Istanbul: Islamic Justice and Its Compatibility with Modern Economic Life," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(3), pages 631-666.
    13. Theodore Eisenberg & Michael Heise, 2009. "Plaintiphobia in State Courts? An Empirical Study of State Court Trials on Appeal," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 121-155, January.
    14. Daniel P. Kessler & Daniel L. Rubinfeld, 2004. "Empirical Study of the Civil Justice System," NBER Working Papers 10825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. 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.
    16. Utpal Bhattacharya & Neal Galpin & Bruce Haslem, 2007. "The Home Court Advantage in International Corporate Litigation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50, pages 625-660.
    17. Poitras, Marc & Frasca, Ralph, 2011. "A unified model of settlement and trial expenditures: The PriestâKlein model extended," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 188-195, September.
    18. Hylton, Keith N., 2002. "An asymmetric-information model of litigation," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 153-175, August.
    19. William H. J. Hubbard, 2013. "Testing for Change in Procedural Standards, with Application to Bell Atlantic v. Twombly," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 35-68.
    20. 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 theoretic
      ," MPRA Paper 32746, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. 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.
    22. Daniel Klerman & Yoon-Ho Alex Lee, 2014. "Inferences from Litigated Cases," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 209-248.
    23. Benito Arruñada, 2018. "Evolving Practice in Land Demarcation," Working Papers 1043, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.

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