Friday, March 28, 2008
Gillian Hadfield (USC) has posted what promises to be a fascinating qualitative analysis on the decision of victims of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 to litigate or obtain compensation through the September 11 Fund. The Article, called "Framing the Choice Between Cash and Courthouse: Experiences with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund" will be published in the Law and Society Review and is posted on SSRN. This is a very important contribution to our thinking on what types of procedures ought to be used in mass tort cases. Here is the abstract:
In this paper I report the results of a quantitative and qualitative empirical study of how those who were injured or lost a family member in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks evaluated the tradeoff between a cash payment - available through the Victim Compensation Fund - and the pursuit of litigation. Responses make it clear that potential plaintiffs saw much more at stake than monetary compensation and that the choice to forego litigation required the sacrifice of important non-monetary, civic, values: obtaining and publicizing information about what happened, prompting public findings of accountability for those responsible, and participating in the process of ensuring that there would be responsive change to what was learned about how the attacks and deaths happened. The results shed light on the framing component of the transformation of disputes, and in particular on how potential litigants see the decision to sue, or not, as a decision as much or more about how they understand their relationship to their community and their responsibilities as a citizen as how they evaluate monetary considerations.