Research Handbook on the Economics of Torts
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Research Handbook on the Economics of Torts

  • Research Handbooks in Law and Economics series

Edited by Jennifer H. Arlen

This pioneering Handbook contains specially-commissioned chapters on tort law from leading experts in the field. This volume evaluates issues of vital importance to those seeking to understand and reform the tort law and the litigation process, taking a multi-disciplinary approach, including theoretical economic analysis, empirical analysis, socio-economic analysis, and behavioral analysis. Topics discussed include products liability, medical malpractice, causation, proximate cause, joint and several liability, class actions, mass torts, vicarious liability, settlement, damage rules, juries, tort reform, and potential alternatives to the tort system. Scholars, students, legal practitioners, regulators, and judges with an interest in tort law, litigation, damages, and reform will find this seminal Handbook an invaluable addition to their libraries.
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Chapter 16: Empirical analysis of juries in tort cases

Shari Seidman Diamond and Jessica M. Salerno

Extract

Throughout its history, the jury has attracted both stiff criticism and unqualified praise, viewed by turns as an incompetent, naïve, and biased decision maker and as an astute repository of folk wisdom and common sense. Here, we examine how the American jury actually behaves in the tort cases that produce the majority of civil jury trials. The evidence shows that juries usually use reasonable strategies to evaluate the conflicting evidence they are given. They are active problem-solvers who typically work to produce defensible verdicts. Nonetheless, juries are occasionally misled by the strategies they rely on to reach decisions. Their decision making processes are also at times undermined by limitations, many of them unnecessary, imposed by the legal system. In this chapter, we discuss the empirical literature relating to jury decisions in tort cases.

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