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Secrecy and Safety

  • Andrew Daughety

    (Vanderbilt University)

  • Jennifer Reinganum

    (Vanderbilt University)

We employ a simple two-period model to show that the use of confidential settlement as a strategy for a firm facing tort litigation leads to lower average product safety than that which would be produced if a firm were committed to openness. Moreover, confidentiality can even lead to declining average product safety over time. We also show that a rational risk-neutral consumer's response to a market environment, wherein a firm engages in confidential settlement agreements, may be to reduce demand. We discuss how firm profitability is influenced by the decision to have open or confidential settlements; all else equal, a firm following a policy of openness will pay higher equilibrium wages and incur higher training costs, though product demand will not be diminished (as it may be for a firm employing confidentiality). Further, we characterize the choice of regime, providing conditions such that, if the cost of credible auditing (to verify openness) is low enough, a firm will choose to pay for auditing and eschew confidentiality.

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Paper provided by American Law & Economics Association in its series American Law & Economics Association Annual Meetings with number 1039.

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Handle: RePEc:bep:alecam:1039
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  1. Jennifer F. Reinganum & Louise L. Wilde, 1986. "Settlement, Litigation, and the Allocation of Litigation Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(4), pages 557-566, Winter.
  2. Daughety, Andrew & Reinganum, Jennifer, 1992. "Product Safety: Liability, R & D and Signaling," Working Papers 94-17, University of Iowa, Department of Economics, revised 1994.
  3. Laurent Linnemer, 1998. "Entry Deterrence, Product Quality: Price and Advertising as Signals," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(4), pages 615-645, December.
  4. Fluet, Claude & Garella, Paolo G., 2002. "Advertising and prices as signals of quality in a regime of price rivalry," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(7), pages 907-930, September.
  5. Bagwell, Kyle, 1992. "Pricing to Signal Product Line Quality," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 151-74, Spring.
  6. Mark N. Hertzendorf & Per Baltzer Overgaard, 2001. "Price Competition and Advertising Signals: Signaling by Competing Senders," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(4), pages 621-662, December.
  7. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:102:y:1987:i:2:p:179-221 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Banks, Jeffrey S & Sobel, Joel, 1987. "Equilibrium Selection in Signaling Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(3), pages 647-61, May.
  9. Mark N. Hertzendorf, 1993. "I'm Not a High-Quality Firm -- But I Play One on TV," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(2), pages 236-247, Summer.
  10. Kyle Bagwell & Michael Riordan, 1988. "High and Declining Prices Signal Product Quality," Discussion Papers 808, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1986. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 796-821, August.
  12. In-Koo Cho & David M. Kreps, 1997. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 896, David K. Levine.
  13. Yang, Bill Z., 1996. "Litigation, experimentation, and reputation," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 491-502, December.
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