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The Duration of Litigation

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This paper analyzes the duration of litigation. The analysis of court congestion by Posner (1972) and Priest (1989) suggests that the effects of delay reduction programs may be only transitory, because initial improvements may be swamped by an offsetting increase in demand for litigation. However, we find some evidence that time to settlement was reduced in a Michigan court by a program that provided for early intervention in each case by a judge who imposed a time schedule on major events of the litigation.

Using two new data sets on personal injury claims, we find that the time to settlement increases with the amount at stake but is sharply reduced when the case is referred to a specialist in personal injury litigation. Estimates of a duration model indicate that the likelihood of settlement is increased by the completion of discovery and especially by the settlement conference. We find that the hazard of settlement increases as the case gets closer to trial. This finding is in accord with the "deadline effect" derived from certain bargaining models.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.

Publication date: July 1, 1997

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