Columbia Law Review Sidebar
Peter H. Huang, Emotional Adaptation and Lawsuit Settlements, 108 Colum. L. Rev. Sidebar 50 (2008), available at http://scholar.law.colorado.edu/articles/297/.
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.
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