Assuring Civil Damages Adequately Deter: A Public Good Experiment

49 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2014

See all articles by Theodore Eisenberg

Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased)

Christoph Engel

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods; University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics, Students; Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

Date Written: June 2014

Abstract

To explore damages rules' deterrent effect we use a public good experiment to tailor punishment to rules used in civil litigation. The experimental treatments are analogous to: (1) damages limited to harm to an individual, (2) damages limited to harm to a group, such as in class actions, and (3) treble damages. For (1) and (2) we also manipulate the probability of a player being entitled to claim damages. The treatments with damages limited to harm to an individual do not prevent deterioration in cooperation over time but deterioration is slower. In the class action treatment, cooperation is stable over time if the probability of having to pay damages is sufficiently high. The same holds for the treble damages treatment. The results persist in variations of (1) and (2) in which the player imposing damages may have them forfeited with no benefit to her. We can therefore rule out that the beneficial effect of sanctions hinges on the participants knowing that the player imposing sanctions cannot intend to enrich herself.

Suggested Citation

Eisenberg, Theodore and Engel, Christoph, Assuring Civil Damages Adequately Deter: A Public Good Experiment (June 2014). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 11, Issue 2, pp. 301-349, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2424083 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jels.12042

Theodore Eisenberg (Contact Author)

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased) ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

Christoph Engel

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany
+049 228 914160 (Phone)
+049 228 9141655 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.coll.mpg.de/engel.html

University of Bonn - Faculty of Law & Economics

Postfach 2220
D-53012 Bonn
Germany

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Erasmus School of Law, Rotterdam Institute of Law and Economics, Students ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
PO Box 1738
Rotterdam
Netherlands

Universität Osnabrück - Faculty of Law

Osnabruck, D-49069
Germany

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
1
Abstract Views
1,106
PlumX Metrics