IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

When Tort Resolutions Are "Wrong": Predictors of Discordant Outcomes in Medical Malpractice Litigation


  • David M. Studdert
  • Michelle M. Mello


Tort litigation is frequently criticized for producing outcomes that do not match merit. We examined 1,452 closed malpractice claims from five insurers to obtain objective clinical judgments of their underlying merit. We then analyzed predictors of discordant outcomes-payment of apparently nonmeritorious claims and nonpayment of apparently meritorious claims. In multivariate analyses, the odds of both forms of discordant outcome were significantly higher when reviewers judged it a close call as to whether a medical error had occurred. The odds of nonmeritorious claims receiving compensation were significantly higher among cases involving infants and health care facility codefendants and significantly lower when claims were decided by trial verdict. The strongest predictor of rejection of meritorious claims was resolution by trial verdict, which suggests that patients who have been harmed by error fare poorly when their claims are decided by juries. (c) 2007 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Suggested Citation

  • David M. Studdert & Michelle M. Mello, 2007. "When Tort Resolutions Are "Wrong": Predictors of Discordant Outcomes in Medical Malpractice Litigation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(S2), pages 47-78, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:36:y:2007:i:s2:p:s47-s78

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    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. Waldfogel, Joel, 1995. "The Selection Hypothesis and the Relationship between Trial and Plaintiff Victory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 229-260, April.
    2. Farber, Henry S & White, Michelle J, 1994. "A Comparison of Formal and Informal Dispute Resolution in Medical Malpractice," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 777-806, June.
    3. George L. Priest & Benjamin Klein, 1984. "The Selection of Disputes for Litigation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 1-56, January.
    4. Sloan, Frank A. & Githens, Penny B. & Clayton, Ellen Wright & Hickson, Gerald B., 1993. "Suing for Medical Malpractice," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226762791, April.
    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. 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.
    2. Marie-Cécile Fagart & Claude Fluet, 2009. "Liability insurance under the negligence rule," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(3), pages 486-508.

    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:36:y:2007:i:s2:p:s47-s78. 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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.