Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1439919
 
 

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Legal Precedents, Judicial Discretion, and the Diffusion of the Strict Liability Rule for Manufacturing Defects, 1963-87


Robert C. Bird


University of Connecticut - School of Business

Donald J. Smythe


California Western School of Law

July 19, 2009


Abstract:     
This article reports the results of a study that uses social network analysis to compare the persuasiveness of legal precedents in the diffusion of the strict liability rule for manufacturing defects. This new study tests which legal precedents were most influential and also whether certain state judicial variables influenced the diffusion process. The results are striking. The federal circuit regions appeared to define an important reference group in the diffusion process and social network effects dominated economic and political variables. In addition, the de facto separation of powers in the enactment of new state legislation appeared to influence courts’ propensities to adopt the strict liability rule. When the executive and legislative branches were controlled by the same political party – regardless of whether it was the Republican or Democratic Party – state courts were more inclined to adopt the strict liability rule. This last result contradicts an economic hypothesis that predicts courts should be less inclined to exercise discretion when the de facto separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches is narrower.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

Keywords: Diffusion, Social Networks, Legal Precedents, Judicial Discretion, Manufacturing Defects, Strict Liability

JEL Classification: K10, K13, K20

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Date posted: July 28, 2009 ; Last revised: August 12, 2009

Suggested Citation

Bird, Robert C. and Smythe, Donald J., Legal Precedents, Judicial Discretion, and the Diffusion of the Strict Liability Rule for Manufacturing Defects, 1963-87 (July 19, 2009). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1439919 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1439919

Contact Information

Robert C. Bird
University of Connecticut - School of Business ( email )
368 Fairfield Road
Storrs, CT 06269-2041
United States
HOME PAGE: http://businesslaw.business.uconn.edu/robert-bird/
Donald J. Smythe (Contact Author)
California Western School of Law ( email )
225 Cedar Street
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
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