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Products Liability Cases on Appeal: An Empirical Study

Theodore Eisenberg and James A. Henderson Jr.
The Justice System Journal
Vol. 16, No. 2, Torts: Understanding the Patterns in the Courts (1993), pp. 117-138
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27976817
Page Count: 22
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Products Liability Cases on Appeal: An Empirical Study
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Abstract

This article analyzes 1,100 opinions to find the determinants of products liability cases on appeal in state and federal courts. The strongest predictor of plaintiff success on appeal is whether the plaintiff prevailed in a jury trial. Other important factors are the defendant's status as manufacturer, wholesaler, or successor corporation; the plaintiff's degree of injury; and whether the case involved a failure-to-warn claim. The existence of a comparative negligence regime increases the tendency of appellate courts to affirm lower courts. These results allow rejection of a simple model in which pre- and posttrial settlement behavior filters out cases in which the results are clear. Under such a model, only a residue of close cases remains with no clear reason to expect results highly favorable either to products liability plaintiffs or defendants. Despite the importance of the processes that filter appeals, some identifiable factors still influence appeals.

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