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The Government As Litigant: Further Tests of the Case Selection Model


  • Theodore Eisenberg

    (Cornell University)

  • Henry S. Farber

    (Princeton University)


We develop a model of the plaintiff's decision to file a law suit that has implications for how differences between the federal government and private litigants and litigation translate into differences in trial rates and plaintiff win rates at trial. Our case selection model generates a set of predictions for relative trial rates and plaintiff win rates depending on the type of case and whether the government is defendant or plaintiff. In order to test the model, we use data on about 350,000 cases filed in federal district court between 1979 and 1997 in the areas of personal injury and job discrimination where the federal government and private parties work under roughly similar legal rules. We find broad support for the predictions of the model.

Suggested Citation

  • Theodore Eisenberg & Henry S. Farber, 1999. "The Government As Litigant: Further Tests of the Case Selection Model," Working Papers 797, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:418

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Farber, Henry S & Bazerman, Max H, 1987. "Why Is There Disagreement in Bargaining?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 347-352, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yu Hsing, 2006. "Responses of output in Poland to shocks to the exchange rate, the stock price, and other macroeconomic variables: a VAR model," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(15), pages 1017-1022.
    2. Pierre Bentata & Romain Espinosa & Yolande Hiriart, 2019. "Correction Activities by France’s Supreme Courts and Control over their Dockets," Post-Print halshs-02167246, HAL.
    3. Sofia Amaral-Garcia, 2015. "Non-economic Damages in Medical Malpractice Appeals: Does the Jurisdiction Make a Difference?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1506, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Roland Kirstein & Neil Rickman, 2004. ""Third Party Contingency" Contracts in Settlement and Litigation," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(4), pages 555-575, December.
    5. Pierre Bentata & Yolande Hiriart, 2015. "Biased Judges: Evidence from French Environmental Cases," Working Papers hal-01377922, HAL.
    6. Yuhsing, 2006. "Macroeconomic policies and output fluctuations in slovakia: Application of the taylor rule," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 53(2), pages 249-259, June.

    More about this item


    case selection; litigation; trials;

    JEL classification:

    • N72 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-


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