23 Pages Posted: 17 May 2010
In a prior article in this journal, we estimated the effect of an “O'Connell” early settlement offer program on payouts in medical malpractice litigation. Using Texas data and a base set of assumptions, we predicted that early offers would result in a 16 percent (20 percent) decline in payouts in currently tried (settled) cases. The overall decline came almost entirely from a sharp drop in payouts in cases with small economic damages. We compared our results with the estimate by Hersch, O'Connell, and Viscusi (2007) (HOV) of a 70 percent reduction in payouts, reconciled the two estimates, and explained why HOV's estimate reflected the compound effects of a series of unreasonable assumptions. In a reply in this journal, Hersch, O'Connell, and Viscusi (2010) (HOV-2) complain that we misunderstand both the early offer proposal and their analysis. Remarkably, they do not dispute our estimates, given our assumptions. In this rebuttal, we defend our assumptions and provide an alternate analysis of settled cases based on insurer allocations, which also produces an estimated 20 percent payout decline. We also develop further our proposal for two-sided early offers. This proposal would reduce the predicted payout decline by about 2 percent in both tried and settled cases. We explain in greater detail the problems with HOV's analysis. If we correct an error they made in understanding the Texas data set, and leave their other assumptions unchanged, their payout decline estimate drops to 30 percent, not far from ours.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Black, Bernard S. and Hyman, David A. and Silver, Charles, O'Connell Early Settlement Offers: Toward Realistic Numbers and Two-Sided Offers. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 7, Issue 2, pp. 379-401, June 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1605477 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1740-1461.2010.01182.x
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