What to Compensate? Some Surprisingly Unappreciated Reasons Why the Problem is so Hard
27 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2003
Finding the rightful measure of compensation involves first finding the right baseline. But baseline problems, though common throughout law, are remarkably ill-understood. Rather than solve these problems outright, this essay seeks to get to the bottom of their multiple roots. The four kinds of cases being considered are typified by (1) the plaintiff whose leg the defendant tortiously broke - thus preventing him from getting on the plane that crashed (i.e., "failure to worsen" cases); (2) the plaintiff whose loss of legs due to defendant's tortious conduct caused her to give up her career as a professional athlete - with the result that she is now much happier and has no regrets about losing her former career (i.e., "subjective improvement" cases); (3) the promisee of an enforceable contractual promise asking to be put in the position he would have been in had the promise been kept rather than had the promise never been made (i.e, the contract damage question); (4) the plaintiff who but for defendant's tortious conduct would not exist, with particular emphasis on the descendants of slaves who but for slavery would not have existed, and surely not in the United States.
Keywords: jurisprudence, remedies, torts, contracts
JEL Classification: K00, K10, K13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation