Document Type



Columbia Law Review Sidebar




In Hedonic Adaptation and the Settlement of Civil Lawsuits, Professors John Bronsteen, Christopher Buccafusco, and Jonathan Masur note an unexplored aspect of protracted lawsuits: During prolonged litigation tort victims can adapt emotionally to even permanent injuries, and therefore are more likely to settle--and for less--than if their lawsuits proceeded faster. This Response demonstrates that this is a facile application of hedonic adaptation with the following three points. First, people care about more than happiness: Tort victims may sue to seek justice or revenge; emotions in tort litigation can be cultural evaluations; and people are often motivated by identity and meaning. Also, if plaintiffs fear losing litigation options, they are less likely to settle--and for more--than if their lawsuits proceeded faster. Second, adaptation can be slow and remain incomplete after many years. Third, fostering emotional adaptation by lengthy tort litigation raises ethical and normative questions.