Plaintiphobia in the Appellate Courts: Civil Rights Really Do Differ from Negotiable Instruments?

32 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2002

See all articles by Kevin M. Clermont

Kevin M. Clermont

Cornell Law School

Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased)

Abstract

Using a database that combines all federal civil trials and appeals decided since 1988, we find that defendants succeed more than plaintiffs on appeal from civil trials. Defendants appealing their losses after trial obtain reversals at a 33% rate, while losing plaintiffs succeed in only 12% of their appeals from trials. Both descriptive analyses of the results and more formal regression models dispel explanations based solely on selection of cases and instead support an explanation based on appellate judges' attitudes toward trial-level adjudicators. The large difference between appellate court and trial court probably stems from the appellate judges' misperceptions about the trial-level treatment of plaintiffs. The appellate court consequently is more favorably disposed to the defendant than are the trial judge and the jury.

JEL Classification: J41, K41, K40, K13, K31

Suggested Citation

Clermont, Kevin M. and Eisenberg, Theodore, Plaintiphobia in the Appellate Courts: Civil Rights Really Do Differ from Negotiable Instruments?. University of Illinois Law Review, Vol. 2002, p. 947, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=300919 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.300919

Kevin M. Clermont

Cornell Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-5189 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

Theodore Eisenberg (Contact Author)

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased) ( email )

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

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