A Contest Model of Separate Action versus Class Action Litigation
Kathryn E. Spier
Harvard University - Law School - Faculty; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Harvard Law School
October 14, 2011
Forthcoming, Journal of Legal Analysis
Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 11-28
We formally demonstrate the general case for class action in a rent-seeking contest model, explaining why separate action adjudication is biased in the defendant’s favor and collective adjudication is bias-free. Separate action bias arises from the defendant’s investment advantage in capitalizing on centralized control over the aggregate (classwide) stake in the common question defense, while the plaintiff, with only an individual recovery at stake, spends much less. Class action eliminates bias by enabling both parties to make their best case through centralized optimal classwide investments. Our social benefit-cost analysis shows that class action surpasses alternative methods for achieving bias-free adjudication.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 61
Keywords: Class Actions, Civil Litigation, Liability, Torts
JEL Classification: K00, K13, K41Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 27, 2011 ; Last revised: September 20, 2014
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