IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Courts as Casinos? An Empirical Investigation of Randomness and Efficiency in Civil Litigation


  • Osborne, Evan


For a variety of reasons, the U.S. legal system has been accused of performing poorly because of the haphazard way in which courts assess liability and award damages. This article examines the relation of court awards to the pretrial expectations of litigants and their attorneys and to measurable, economically relevant damages. Court awards are highly predictable, as variance in expectations explains much of the variance in awards. In addition, awards are significantly related to both medical costs and property damage. The hypothesis of a highly unpredictable court system is conclusively rejected. Copyright 1999 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Osborne, Evan, 1999. "Courts as Casinos? An Empirical Investigation of Randomness and Efficiency in Civil Litigation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 187-203, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:28:y:1999:i:1:p:187-203

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steven Shavell, 1981. "The Social versus the Private Incentive to Bring Suit in a Costly Legal System," NBER Working Papers 0741, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Hylton, Keith N., 1990. "The influence of litigation costs on deterrence under strict liability and under negligence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 161-171, September.
    3. Png, I. P. L., 1987. "Litigation, liability, and incentives for care," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 61-85, October.
    4. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye, 1988. "Suing Solely to Extract a Settlement Offer," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 437-450, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Santolino, Miguel, 2010. "Determinants of the decision to appeal against motor bodily injury judgements made by Spanish trial courts," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 37-45, March.
    2. Enrico Colombatto, 2007. "It was the rule of law. Will it be the rule of judges?," ICER Working Papers 41-2007, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:28:y:1999:i:1:p:187-203. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Journals Division). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.