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Damage Caps and Settlement: A Behavioral Approach


  • Babcock, Linda
  • Pogarsky, Greg


Since 1970, at least 30 states have enacted legislation capping the damages plaintiffs can recover in a lawsuit. Guided by previous research on suit and settlement, we outline a simple framework for examining the effects of a cap on litigant judgments and the pretrial settlement rate. We then introduce several refinements to the simple framework that are based on findings from behavioral economics and psychology. In particular, we recognize litigants may possess "role-specific biases" in information processing and may be subject to nonpecuniary influences during pre-trial bargaining. Finally, the paper presents experimental evidence for the effects of a damage cap on litigants' judgments and the settlement rate. The results show that behavioral and psychological theories can greatly expand the explanatory power of models that depict the pretrial bargaining environment. Copyright 1999 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Babcock, Linda & Pogarsky, Greg, 1999. "Damage Caps and Settlement: A Behavioral Approach," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(2), pages 341-370, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:28:y:1999:i:2:p:341-70

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:expeco:v:20:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10683-016-9486-z is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Landeo, Claudia M., 2009. "Cognitive coherence and tort reform," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 898-912, December.
    3. Florian Baumann & Tim Friehe, 2012. "Emotions in litigation contests," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 195-215, September.
    4. Ronen Avraham, 2007. "An Empirical Study of the Impact of Tort Reforms on Medical Malpractice Settlement Payments," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(S2), pages 183-229, June.
    5. Avraham, Ronen & Bustos, Álvaro, 2010. "The unexpected effects of caps on non-economic damages," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 291-305, December.
    6. Yannick Gabuthy & Nicolas Jacquemet, 2013. "Analyse économique du droit et méthode expérimentale," Economie & Prévision, La Documentation Française, vol. 0(1), pages 121-145.
    7. Landeo, Claudia M., 2009. "Tort Reform, Disputes and Belief Formation," MPRA Paper 13453, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00746617 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Landeo, Claudia, 2015. "Law and Economics and Tort Litigation Institutions: Theory and Experiments," Working Papers 2015-12, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.

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