Dispute Resolution and the Vanishing Trial: Comparing Federal Government Litigation and ADR Outcomes

39 Pages Posted: 2 May 2008 Last revised: 12 Jun 2011

See all articles by Lisa Blomgren Amsler (formerly Bingham)

Lisa Blomgren Amsler (formerly Bingham)

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA); University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law

Tina Nabatchi

Syracuse University

Jeffrey M. Senger

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Michael Scott Jackman

Indiana University

Date Written: January 1, 2009

Abstract

This study compares litigation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in civil cases handled by Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs) during the period 1995 to 1998. The findings indicate that that use of ADR can be an efficient and effective procedural solution to the problems of time and cost in the justice system without sacrificing the quality of macrojustice. When ADR was used, 65% of cases settled (only 29% of cases settled when it was not used). Significantly more cases settled when ADR was voluntary than when it was mandatory (71% vs. 50%), and tort cases settled with more frequency than employment discrimination cases (73% vs. 60%). When using ADR, AUSAs subjectively estimated that the process saved significant time and money. AUSAs spent an average of $869 in neutral fees and estimated that the process saved $10,735 in litigation expenses per case. AUSAs spent an average of 12 hours preparing for ADR and 7 hours in the ADR process per case, which they estimated saved 88 hours of staff time and 6 months of litigation time per case. Analyses of various macrojustice outcomes show that ADR outcomes were not significantly different from litigated outcomes, indicating that the process was neutral, favoring neither private parties nor the government. While these statistics are descriptive, a final analysis shows that the earlier a case is referred to ADR, the shorter its time to disposition. In sum, the study provides a better picture of how ADR is used by the government in federal court cases, and suggests that ADR has the potential to improve dispute processing without sacrificing the quality of justice.

Keywords: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Litigation

JEL Classification: J52, J58

Suggested Citation

Amsler, Lisa Blomgren and Nabatchi, Tina and Senger, Jeffrey M. and Jackman, Michael Scott, Dispute Resolution and the Vanishing Trial: Comparing Federal Government Litigation and ADR Outcomes (January 1, 2009). Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution, Vol. 24, No. 2, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1127878

Lisa Blomgren Amsler (Contact Author)

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Public & Environmental Affairs (SPEA) ( email )

1315 East Tenth Street
Rm. 333
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law ( email )

4505 South Maryland Parkway
Box 451003
Las Vegas, NV 89154
United States

Tina Nabatchi

Syracuse University ( email )

900 S. Crouse Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2130
United States

Jeffrey M. Senger

U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( email )

5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857-0001
United States

Michael Scott Jackman

Indiana University ( email )

107 S Indiana Ave
100 South Woodlawn
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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