The Death of Liability

Yale Law Journal, October 1996

92 Pages Posted: 8 May 2000

See all articles by Lynn M. LoPucki

Lynn M. LoPucki

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law


Based on systems/strategic analysis, this paper predicts the complete failure of legal liability system. Liability is the system by which injured persons recover money damages from those who injure them. The system operates through the entry and enforcement of judgments by the courts. The paper argues that the system is vulnerable to defeat by a variety of judgment proofing techniques which can be categorized as secured debt strategies, ownership strategies, exemption strategies, and foreign haven strategies. Computerization has recently brought about dramatic reductions in the costs of pursuing these strategies, making them cost effective for more potential defendants. As use spreads, the cultural and political barriers to judgment proofing will decline, leading to wider use of the techniques and ultimately to system failure. The paper examines a variety of strategies by which the system might respond, including shareholder unlimited liability, involuntary creditor priority, asset provider liability, enterprise liability, mandatory insurance, and financial responsibility laws. The paper concludes that judgment- proofing strategists will be able to overcome all of them.

JEL Classification: K40

Suggested Citation

LoPucki, Lynn M., The Death of Liability. Yale Law Journal, October 1996, Available at SSRN: or

Lynn M. LoPucki (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
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(310) 794-5722 (Phone)

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