February 9, 2010
Bebchuck & Klement on Negative Value Suits
Lucian Bebchuck (Harvard) and Alon Klement (Radzyner School of Law & B.U.) have posted an encyclopedia entry on Negative Value Suits on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
We review the literature on negative-expected-value suits (NEV suits) – suits in which the plaintiff would obtain a negative expected return from pursuing the suit all the way to judgment. We discuss alternative theories as to why, and when, plaintiffs with NEV suits can extract a positive settlement amount. In particular, we explain how such a plaintiff can extract a positive settlement due (i) asymmetry of information between the parties, (ii) divisibility of the plaintiff's litigation costs, (iii) upfront costs that the defendant must incur before the plaintiff incurs any costs; (iv) expectation that the arrival of information during the course of the litigation may turn the suit into a positive-expected-value one, (5) reputation that enables the plaintiff to bind itself to going to trial if the defendant refuses to settle; or (6) the plaintiff’s having a contingency fee or retainer arrangement with its lawyer.
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