They also have some stuff to say about class actions, and the availability of damages and fees for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Spoiler: they don't like them either.
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
Recent reading: litigious Americans
Eric Bennett Rasmusen & J. Mark Ramseyer, Are Americans More Litigious? Some Quantitative Evidence: In what I consider a disqualifying argument, the authors begin the paper with the example of the elderly woman who sued McDonald's after being seriously burned by the company's coffee to show how ridiculous American lawsuits are. As someone reviewing the film Hot Coffee said, if you've ever used this case as an example of over-litigiousness, you have a moral obligation to take a look at her burns. Here's a small picture. At least the authors do note in text that the jury's award was reduced by over 75% by the judge, which many people don't bother to mention. The authors say "More curiously, even prominent law professors found good things to say about $2.86 million for a coffee spill." I'm more curious why they think this verdict--based, before it was reduced, on a few days' of McDonald's revenues from coffee--is so obviously terrible that it speaks for itself as a condemnation, rather than a vindication, of the American justice system.