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Revisiting Eisenberg and Plaintiff Success: State Court Civil Trial and Appellate Outcomes

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Volume 13, Issue 3, 516–535, September 2016 Forthcoming

Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-5

31 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2016 Last revised: 11 Aug 2016

Michael Heise

Cornell Law School

Martin T. Wells

Cornell University - Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 18, 2016

Abstract

In earlier research on federal civil cases Eisenberg found an association between plaintiff success in pretrial motions and at trial. Our extension of Eisenberg’s analysis twenty years later into the state court context, however, did not find any significant association between a plaintiff’s success at trial and in preserving that trial victory on appeal. Our results imply that a plaintiff’s decision to pursue litigation to a trial court conclusion is analytically distinct from the plaintiff’s decision to defend an appeal of its trial court win brought by a disgruntled defendant. We consider various factors that likely account for the observed differences that distinguish our results from Eisenberg’s. First, legal cases that persist to an appellate outcome are a filtered subset of underlying trials and legal disputes and various selection effects inform much of this case filtering. Second, where Eisenberg analyzed the relation between pre-trial motions and trial outcomes in federal courts, we assessed possible relations between trial and appellate court outcomes in state courts. The pre-trial and trial context and the trial and appeals context likely differ in ways that disturb plaintiff success. Third, while Eisenberg studied federal cases between 1978-85 we studied state cases between 2001-2009. In addition to differences between federal and state civil cases, the composition of cases that selected into formal litigation may have evolved over time.

Suggested Citation

Heise, Michael and Wells, Martin T., Revisiting Eisenberg and Plaintiff Success: State Court Civil Trial and Appellate Outcomes (April 18, 2016). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Volume 13, Issue 3, 516–535, September 2016 Forthcoming; Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper No. 16-5. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2714413 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2714413

Michael Heise (Contact Author)

Cornell Law School ( email )

310 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-0069 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

Martin Wells

Cornell University - Law School ( email )

Comstock Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-8801 (Phone)

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