Introspection through Litigation
50 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2014 Last revised: 21 Mar 2015
Date Written: December 16, 2014
This Article contends that there is a bright side to being sued: organizational defendants can learn valuable information about their own behavior from lawsuits brought against them. Complaints describe allegations of wrongdoing. The discovery process unearths documents and testimony regarding plaintiffs’ allegations. And in summary judgment briefs, expert reports, pre-trial orders, and trial, parties marshal the evidence to support their claims. Each of these aspects of civil litigation can bring to the surface information that an organization does not have or has not previously identified, collected, or recognized as valuable. This information, placed in the hands of an organization’s leaders as the result of litigation, can be used to improve systems and personnel.
This Article considers the information generated by litigation, the gaps lawsuit data can fill in the information otherwise available to organizations, and possible reasons some organizations may gather and analyze litigation data more frequently than others. To illustrate these concepts, I draw on original research of police departments and hospitals and evidence from other organizational settings.
Keywords: litigation, deterrence, risk management, policing, health care, civil procedure
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