NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Suit Versus Settlement When Parties Seek Nonmonetary Judgements

Steven Shavell

NBER Working Paper No. 4012
Issued in March 1992
NBER Program(s):   LE

This article considers situations in which plaintiffs seek nonmonetary judgments, for instance, custody of a child or an injunction. The primary questions of interest concern when parties will be likely to settle and, if so, what the nature of their settlements will be. The answers to these questions are different from what they are when plaintiffs seek purely monetary awards. In that case settlements involve only money payments whereas here they involve as well disposition of the nonmonetary things sought (who obtains custody of a child). Also, as is well known, when plaintiffs seek monetary judgments the parties will be inclined to settle to save litigation costs and reduce risk if they agree about the likelihood of plaintiff success at trial, but here that is not necessarily true. (For example, custody of a child may well be considered vital by each parent, making each unwilling to relinquish the chance of securing custody through trial for any amount in the range of what the other could pay.)

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Published: Journal of Legal Studies, January 1993, Vol. 22, No. 1, 1-13.

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Shavell w0662 Suit and Settlement vs. Trial: A Theoretical Analysis under Alternative Methods for the Allocation of Legal Costs
 
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