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The Politics of Torts: Explaining Litigation Rates in the American States

State Politics & Policy Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 2, Summer 2001

17 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2005  

Belinda Davis

Michigan State University - Department of Political Science

Henry R. Glick

Florida State University - Department of Political Science

Jeff Yates

Binghamton University - Department of Political Science

Abstract

Debate rages over whether Americans have become enormously litigious, but little research considers why Americans file cases in the first place or adequately considers rates of litigation over time. This article examines tort filings in ten representative states over a twenty-year period and analyzes the impact of social, political, policy, and legal system factors that may account for case filings. We find that filing rates vary substantially over time within individual states, which adds to cautions about claims of general litigiousness. Our analysis also demonstrates that social complexity, opportunities for political participation, and social policy are the most important explanations for variations in filing rates. The tendency of Americans to use the courts to resolve disputes is related to the milieu in which they live and how the political system responds to demands for participation and social support.

Keywords: Tort, litigation, crises, courts, law, lawyers, litigiousness, politics, disputes

Suggested Citation

Davis, Belinda and Glick, Henry R. and Yates, Jeff, The Politics of Torts: Explaining Litigation Rates in the American States. State Politics & Policy Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 2, Summer 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=695924

Belinda Davis

Michigan State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

East Lansing, MI 48824
United States

Henry R. Glick

Florida State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Talahasse, FL 30306
United States

Jeff L. Yates (Contact Author)

Binghamton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Binghamton, NY 13902
United States

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