Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1019050
 
 

Footnotes (7)



 


 



Causation in Tort: General Populations vs. Individual Cases


William L. Meadow


University of Chicago Children's Hospital

Cass R. Sunstein


Harvard Law School

September 2007

U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 130
U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 179

Abstract:     
To establish causation, a tort plaintiff must show that it is "more probable than not" that the harm would not have occurred if the defendant had followed the relevant standard of care. Statistical evidence, based on aggregate data, is sometimes introduced to show that the defendant's conduct created a statistically significant increase in the likelihood that the harm would occur. But there is a serious problem with the use of such evidence: It does not establish that in the particular case, the injury was more likely than not to have occurred because the defendant behaved negligently. Under existing doctrine, a plaintiff should not be able to establish liability on the basis of a showing of a statistically significant increase in risk. This point has general implications for the use of statistical evidence in tort cases. It also raises complex issues about the relationship between individual cases and general deterrence: Optimal deterrence might be obtained by imposing liability on defendants who engage in certain behavior, even though a failure to engage in such behavior cannot be connected with the plaintiff's harm by reference to the ordinary standards of causation.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 13

Keywords: causation, negligence, medical malpractice, standard of care

working papers series


Download This Paper

Date posted: October 3, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Meadow, William L. and Sunstein, Cass R., Causation in Tort: General Populations vs. Individual Cases (September 2007). U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 130; U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 179. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1019050 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1019050

Contact Information

William L. Meadow
University of Chicago Children's Hospital ( email )
5839 South Maryland Avenue
Department of Pediatrics
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
Cass R. Sunstein (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1575 Massachusetts Ave
Areeda Hall 225
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2291 (Phone)
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 2,227
Downloads: 441
Download Rank: 35,926
Footnotes:  7

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo3 in 0.422 seconds