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Informational Externalities and Settlements in Mass Tort Litigations

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  • Deffains, Bruno
  • Langlais, Eric

Abstract

This paper elaborates on a basic model of mass tort litigation, highlighting the existence of positive informational externalities afforded by the discovery process (as a general technology of production of evidences) in order to study when a class action is formed, or when a sequence of individual trials is more likely. We illustrate the argument that when several plaintiffs file individually a lawsuit against the same tortfeasor, the resolution of the various cases through repeated trials produces positive informational externalities. When class actions are forbidden, these externalities only benefit to the later plaintiffs (through precedents, jurisprudence...). When they are allowed, the first filers may have an incentive to initiate a class action as far as it enables him to benefit from these externalities, through the sharing of information with later filers. We provide sufficient conditions under which a class action is formed, assuming a perfect discovery process. We also show that when contingent fees are used to reward attorneys' services, plaintiffs become neutral to the arrival of new information on their case.

Suggested Citation

  • Deffains, Bruno & Langlais, Eric, 2010. "Informational Externalities and Settlements in Mass Tort Litigations," MPRA Paper 23016, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:23016
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/23016/1/MPRA_paper_23016.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marceau, Nicolas & Mongrain, Steeve, 2003. "Damage averaging and the formation of class action suits," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 63-74, March.
    2. Winand Emons, 2006. "Playing It Safe with Low Conditional Fees versus Being Insured by High Contingent Fees," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 20-32.
    3. Winand Emons, 2007. "Conditional versus contingent fees," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 89-101, January.
    4. Steven Shavell, 1989. "Sharing of Information Prior to Settlement or Litigation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 20(2), pages 183-195, Summer.
    5. Winand Emons & Nuno Garoupa, 2006. "US-style contingent fees and UK-style conditional fees: agency problems and the supply of legal services," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(5), pages 379-385.
    6. Lorenzo Sacconi, 2011. "The case against lawyers’ contingent fees and the misapplication of principal-agent models," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 263-292, October.
    7. Lynk, William J, 1990. "The Courts and the Market: An Economic Analysis of Contingent Fees in Class-Action Litigation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 247-260, January.
    8. Alon Klement, 2004. "Incentive Structures for Class Action Lawyers," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 102-124, April.
    9. Che, Yeon-Koo, 1996. "Equilibrium formation of class action suits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 339-361, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ramello, Giovanni B., 2012. "Aggregate litigation and regulatory innovation: Another view of judicial efficiency," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 63-71.
    2. Andrew F. Daughety & Reinganum F. Reinganum, 2014. "Settlement and Trial: Selected Analyses of the Bargaining Environment," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 14-00005, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    3. Marta Cenini & Barbara Luppi & Francesco Parisi, 2011. "Incentive effects of class actions and punitive damages under alternative procedural regimes," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 229-240, October.
    4. Juergen Backhaus & Alberto Cassone & Giovanni Ramello, 2011. "The law and economics of class actions," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 165-168, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Mass Tort Class Action; information sharing; repeated litigation; contingent fees.;

    JEL classification:

    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • K20 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - General
    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics
    • K22 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Business and Securities Law
    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law
    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process

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